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Journal of the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society 

Volume 22 No. 2 

Winter 2011 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2012 

The Argonaut 

Journal of the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society 

Publisher and Editor-in-Chief 

Charles A. Fracchia 


Lana Costantini 

Lorri Ungaretti 


Jim Cohee 

Lana Costantini 

Charles A. Fracchia 

Isabelle Lemon 

Jason Macario 

Lorri Ungaretti 

Board of Directors 

James Lazarus, President 

John Lum, Vice President 

Thomas Escher, Treasurer 

Edith L. Piness, Ph.D., Board Secretary 

Charles A. Fracchia, Founder and President Emeritus 

Daniel Bacon 

Patrick Banks 

Pam Brewster 

David Burkhart 

Marty Cepkauskas 

Thomas C. Escher 

Brett Gladstone 

James W. Hass 

Donald Kajin 

Ink Mendelsohn 

Peter Musto 

David Parry 

Miguel Pendas 

Reginald D. Steer 

David Zisser 

The Argonaut is published by the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society, P.O. Box 420470, San Francisco, CA 94142-0470. 
Changes of address should be sent to the above address. Or, for more information call us at 415-775-1 1 1 1 . 



Journal of the San Francisco museum and Historical Society 

Table of Contents 

The Voyage of the rurik-. 

An Historic 1816 Russian Voyage to San Francisco Bay 

by Paul Gary Sterling 6 


by Monika Trobits 36 

223 AND 225 ELLIS 

by Peter M. Field 64 

COVER PHOTOGRAPH: Hermann Richter painting, July 1938. Discovery of the California Poppy by Chamisso 
and Eschscholz, J8J6. This is a painting commissioned by the University of California, Berkeley, for exhibition at the 
Golden Gate International Exposition at Treasure Island, J 939. It is one of a series of paintings, now displayed at the 
university's Museum of Natural History, depicting important botanical discoveries made during early expeditions to 
California. The artist is Hermann. Richter (1875-1941) , whose work may be best seen in San Francisco at Schroeder's 
German Restaurant in the form of large murals dating from 1932. Richter used Louis Choris's painting, Vue du Presidio 
San Francisco, as a model for the Presidio buildings and the landscape, adding the figures of Chamisso (left) and 
Eschscholtz, the naturalists from Rurik. Note that Richter took care to show Chamisso's trademark long hair and unusual 
clothing. Courtesy of the University of California, Berkeley, CA andjepson Herbaria. 


An Historic 1816 Russian Voyage to San Francisco Bay 

by Paul Gary Sterling 


In October of 1816, a contingent of about 
seventy unhappy soldiers was manning El 
Presidio de San Francisco, the northernmost 
Spanish outpost in Alta California. 1 Spain's 
colonial Empire was crumbling. The 
Mexican independence movement had begun in 
1810 and wars of independence had broken out in 
other Spanish colonies. After a long engagement 
in the Napoleonic Wars, including the occupa- 
tion of Spain by France until 1814, Spain had 
meager resources to support its colonies. 
Shipments of supplies urgently needed by the 
Presidio could no longer be relied upon, and the 
annual supply ship from San Bias, Mexico had 
not been seen for years. 

Unlike the Franciscan missionaries in the 
Mission a few hours to the south, 2 soldiers at the 
Presidio had little access to fresh food and subsist- 
ed mainly on corn. Even such food as could be 
obtained from the Mission was received only on 
credit. The soldiers were also unhappy because 
they had not been paid in cash for seven years. 
The Presidio was nevertheless required to assist 
not only the San Francisco Mission, but the mis- 
sions at Santa Clara, San Jose, and Santa Cruz. Its 
duties included defending the missions from 
Indians and helping to ensure that those convert- 
ed remained in the faith. 

At 4:00 p.m. on October 2, 1816, something 
unusual occurred. An unknown sailing vessel 
entered the Golden Gate, anchoring off the 
Presidio. This was a rare sight indeed, since few 
vessels, Spanish or foreign, visited San Francisco 

Bay.^ Passing the fort at the entrance to the Bay, 4 
the captain, Otto von Kotzebue, noted with some 
trepidation "one must sail past within a musket 
shot of the fort." The ship raised its flag, the 
ensign of the Russian Imperial Navy (displaying a 
blue "X" on a white field), which was not recog- 
nized by those on shore. After identifying itself by 
voice as the Rurik, a "friendly" Russian vessel, the 
ship fired a seven-gun salute, which, to the cap- 
tain's displeasure, was returned by only five guns 
from the Presidio. The ship anchored, awaiting a 
welcoming vessel to be dispatched from shore. 
The Presidio's launch, however, had been 
destroyed in a storm a few months earlier. When 
no vessel appeared to greet Rurik within the hour, 
captain Kotzebue sent a party ashore, including 
the ship's naturalist and interpreter, Adelbert von 
Chamisso, and his second officer. 

Thus began, in fits and starts, one of the earli- 
est well-documented visits to San Francisco Bay. 
The Rank's month- king sojourn resulted in major 
scientific discoveries, including, among many 
others, the first published descriptions and illus- 
trations of the California grizzly bear and 
California's State Flower, the California Poppy. 
Major narratives ot Rurik's stay in San Francisco 
were written by three ot the participants in her 
voyage, and detailed the daily lite ot soldiers, mis- 
sionaries, and Native Americans at the Presidio 
and Mission.' 1 These first-hand accounts provide a 
rare portrait of San Francisco in its earliest days, 
as it appeared to sophisticated visitors ot the time. 
The vessel's artist, Louis Choris, painted, and 


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First published depiction of San Francisco, attributed to Georg von Langsdorff, and the only published San Francisco 

illustration prior to the work of Louis Choris. Langsdorff was the naturalist on the Russian ship Juno, which visited San Francisco 

in 1806, ten years before Rurik arrived. The Presidio is shown on bluff in background. Courtesy of the author. 

later published in Paris, historic depictions of life 
at the Presidio and Mission using the then newly 
developed process of lithography. His paintings 
are the first detailed images of the activities and 
dress of Native Americans at San Francisco. The 
Choris lithographs have been reproduced in 
countless histories of early San Francisco and 
California, including full-color reproductions in 
Charles Fracchia's history of San Francisco, Fire 
& Gold. 6 Less known is the story behind them. 

The Rurik's Voyage 
Around the world and 
the Politics of the Time 

The Russian brig Rurik (also ""Ryurik" or 
"Riurik," named after the semi-mythical, ninth 
century founder of the Russian Empire) had been 
newly built in Abo, Finland. She was a two-masted 
sailing vessel with a displacement of 180 tons and 

a complement of about thirty people. No expense 
had been spared in her construction, and Rurik 
boasted the leading technology of the day, includ- 
ing the first ice-making machine on an ocean 
voyage. Innovation, however, didn't come easily. 
The ice machine worked, but an invention for 
preserving perishable foods was only partially suc- 
cessful. A revolutionary lifeboat with watertight 
compartments, a "safety boat," eventually had to 
be abandoned because it was too heavy. 7 The 
crew members even chipped in to buy an organ, 
which the captain promptly ordered removed 
because it took up too much valuable space. 

Rurik was on an around-the-world voyage. On 
July 30, 1815, she had departed Kronstadt, an 
island port near St. Petersburg, and, after a diffi- 
cult passage around Cape Horn in which the 
vessel was damaged and the captain injured, she 
stopped in Chile. She next sailed to Easter Island 
and other Pacific Islands before heading north all 
the way to Siberia and Alaska, then owned by 
Russia. After repairs were made to the vessel and 
further preparations finished for her voyage, she 
sailed south to San Francisco to replenish food 
supplies before continuing on to Hawaii and the 
South Seas. 

Although privately funded and directed as a 
scientific expedition by a Russian nobleman, 
Count Nikolai Petrovich Rumyantsev, 8 Rurik was 
a vessel of the Russian Imperial Navy, carrying 
eight cannon. Count Rumyantsev had ensured 
that, as a man-of-war, she fly the ensign of the 
Russian Imperial Navy (not a foregone conclu- 
sion for a vessel of exploration) in order to 
command due respect, not only at foreign ports of 
call, but also at the Russian colonies in Alaska. 
The stated goal of her voyage was to discover a 
"Northwest Passage" (or "Northeast Passage," as 
the Russians called it, approaching from the 
Pacific) across the top of North America. This sea 
route, long sought by many countries, was needed 
by Russia to facilitate travel to her North 
American colonies and substantially reduce the 
two years required to ship goods across Siberia. 
The Count, who even chose the name Rurik, had 
originally planned to build two vessels to search 
for a passage from each side of the North 

Count Nicolai Rumyantsev, the Russim\ nobleman and 

statesman who sponsored the Rurik's voyage, as well as other 

voyages of exploration. Courtesy of Google images. 

American continent. This plan was abandoned in 
favor of one vessel, the Rurik.^ 

Before retiring in 1 8 1 4 as chancellor o( the 
Russian Empire, a position akin to minister of 
foreign affairs, Count Rumyantsev had been pri- 
marily responsible for Russia's foreign policy, 
including relations with Spain. In his earlier post 
as minister of commerce, he was in charge of the 
Russian-American Company, chartered by the 
czar in 17 e )^, which operated Russia's North 
American colonies. Count Rumyantsev had also 
funded the 1 806 voyage oi the first Russian vessel 
to visit San Francisco, the Russian-American 
Company vessel Juno, 10 led by Nicolai Rezanov, a 
founder of the company and Russia's former 
ambassador to Japan. Rezanov's task had been to 

attempt the development of Russo-Spanish trade, 
badly needed to support Russia's Alaskan colonies 
and, most urgently at that time, to bring food to 
starving colonists in Sitka, Alaska. 

Chamberlain (not "Count," as is sometimes 
reported) Nicolai Rezanov, the leader of the 1806 
voyage, is best remembered today for his ill-fated 
romance with Maria (Dona) de la Conception, 
15 -year-old daughter of the Presidio commandant 
Jose Dario Argiiello, when Juno visited in April 
1806. (Widower Rezanov was 42, a perfectly 
acceptable age difference in those days.) 
Conception Argiiello was thus the sister of Luis 
Antonio Argiiello, the acting commandant dur- 
ing Rur/k's visit. After his formal betrothal to 
Conception, Nicolai Rezanov was practically 
considered a member of the Argiiello family and, 
largely for this reason, was successful in his quest 
to obtain a full cargo of foodstuffs for famine- 
stricken Sitka. 11 

Rurik's arrival occurred at a particularly crucial 
period in San Francisco history, when San 
Francisco Bay marked the confluence of the 
spheres of influence of Spain and Russia, the 
major European powers in Western North 
America. The personal finances of her sponsor, 
Count Rumyantsev, were directly tied to Russia's 
North American colonies and it would be unreal- 
istic to expect that his foreign policy interests had 
evaporated upon his retirement as Russia's 
chancellor only one year earlier. He is thus the 
enigmatic figure in the Rurik saga and his goals in 
sponsoring the voyage have long been debated 
and discussed among historians. Rurik carried a 
black marble bust of the count in her wardroom, 
an object of considerable curiosity and amuse- 
ment to shipboard visitors. 

In his leading work on Rurilc's San Francisco 
visit, The Visit of the Rurik to San Francisco in 
1816, n Prof. August C. Mahr contends that 
Count Rumyantsev's primary goal in sponsoring 
Run'k's voyage was political and not scientific, i.e., 
to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the 
Spanish military and political resources at San 
Francisco. Prof. Mahr writes that Rurik was, in 
effect, on a spy mission for Count Rumyantsev, 
going so far as to call Capt. Kotzebue a "secret 

Nicolai Rezanov. 
Curtesy of Google images . 

agent." 13 Some of the circumstances of Run'k's stay 
in San Francisco are indeed unusual and appear to 
support Mahr's opinion. Further research, howev- 
er, leads to the conclusion that Prof. Mahr was, in 
this regard, mostly tilting at windmills. 

Both Prof. Mahr's book and the more recent 
book by Edward Mornin, Through Alien Eyes, 1 ^ 
focus upon a study of Rurzk's San Francisco visit. 
While both authors made excellent translations 
of Chamisso's San Francisco journals, neither 
apparently translated those portions of 
Chamisso's journals relating to the rest of Rurik's 
voyage (at least none appear in their books). 
Those journals, however, were translated by Prof. 
Henry Kratz for his book covering the entire voy- 
age, A Voyage Around the World with the Romanzov 

Exploring Expedition in the Years 1815-1818. 1 ^ Dr. 
Kratz's translations include Chamisso's journal for 
the portion of Rurik's, voyage immediately preced- 
ing her arrival at San Francisco. On September 
14, 1816, she had departed from Unalashka, an 
island in the Aleutians (not to be confused with 
the city of Unalaska). That portion of the journal 
surprisingly discloses that San Francisco was not 
even on Run'k's original itinerary: 

We headed [from Unalashka] for San 
Francisco in New California. Mr. von 
Kotzebue had been instructed to head for 
the Sandwich Islands [Hawaii] from 
Unalashka and had obtained very good 
information about them from the ships' 
captains of the Russian-American compa- 
ny. Kotzebue had preferred that port (San 
Francisco) to the islands, where the fre- 
quency of shipping has increased the price 
of all necessities and where payment can be 
made only with Spanish piasters or with 
copper plates, weapons, or the like, for the 
rest and recreation of his crew and the pro- 
visioning of the Rurik. 16 

There is no reason to doubt Chamisso's 
account that Capt. Kotzebue decided, en route, to 
substitute San Francisco as a provisioning port of 
call because of cost and convenience of payment. 
It follows, of course, that the major purpose of the 
voyage, as directed by Count 
Rumyantsev, could not have been an 
investigation into Spanish resources at 
San Francisco. This is not to say that 
San Francisco was not an alternative 
port from the beginning (as indicated 
by evidence that the Spanish had 
received prior official notice of Rurik's 
possible arrival in San Francisco). 
Neither does it mean that the strength 
of Spanish resources at San Francisco 
was not a matter of considerable inter- 
est to the Russians in general and to 
Count Rumyantsev in particular. It 
clearly was. Chamisso's explanation, 
however, confirms that the scientific 

were, as publically announced, her primary 
purpose. This is consistent with the count's lauda- 
tory, lifelong interest and investment in matters 
of science. It is likewise consistent with the 
count's original, seldom-mentioned plan to build 
two vessels to engage in the search for a 
Northwest Passage. More importantly, perhaps, 
Chamisso's journal also establishes that, even two 
hundred years ago, San Francisco was a great 
place for a sailor's shore leave. 

Before Nicolai Rezanov died in March 1817 
while attempting to return to St. Petersburg from 
Siberia on horseback, he had recommended to 
the Russian-American Company that a settle- 
ment be established north of San Francisco to 
support the companies colonies in North 
America. Between 1808 and 1812, Ivan 
Aleksandrovich Kuskov (or "Kuskoff"), a senior 
official of the Russian-American Company, led 
several expeditions to California to locate a suit- 
able site. In 1812, construction was begun on 
what was to become Fort Ross, Russia's large trad- 
ing and agricultural base, located in present-day 
Sonoma County. Fort Ross was substantially com- 
plete by the time of Rtm'k's arrival, with Kuskov 
then serving as commandant, or administrator, of 
the settlement. Rurik, however, had too deep a 
draft (greater than nine feet) to permit a landing 
there, which is why she sailed past the fort directly 
to San Francisco. 

**■ — V 


and exploratory aspects of Rwrik's voyage 

Fort Roys, Sonoma County, CA.Courtcsy of Google images 


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Louis Choris lithograph, 1822. Bateau du port de San Francisco. Indians in tule, or reed, canoe on San Francisco Bay. 
This was the Indians 1 only means of water transportation. The canoes were not meant to be watertight. Courtesy of the author. 

A smaller and older Russian base, founded by 
Kuskov in 1809, was only thirty miles north of 
San Francisco at Bodega Bay. This fort was con- 
sidered by the Spanish to be indisputably in their 
territory. The Russians, however, did not formally 
recognize Spanish authority north of San 
Francisco. The Russian name for Bodega Bay was 
Rumyantsev Bay, or Port Rumyantsev, having 
been named in 1812 in honor of Rurik's sponsor, 
Count Rumyantsev. 17 Also named for the count 
was the first seagoing vessel built in California, a 
brig-schooner of 160 tons constructed at Fort 
Ross from 1816 to 1819 (which, constructed from 
uncured lumber, survived only a few years). 

The primary purpose of Russia's California out- 

posts was to support Russia's profitable trade in 
sea otter furs, mainly with China (where they 
were greatly prized and called "Imperial Furs"), as 
sea otters were becoming increasingly scarce in 
northern waters. The Russians even established 
summer hunting bases on the Farallon Islands, 
within sight of the Golden Gate, and the hunting 
by Russians of sea otters within San Francisco Bay 
itself was not uncommon. Large numbers of 
native Alaskan hunters from Kodiak Island, 
Aleuts, were brought to Russia's California out- 
posts with great success. The Aleuts were skilled 
in hunting sea otters from sealskin-covered 
canoes called bidarkas. (Bidarkas were also carried 
on Rurik for coastal exploration.) In 1811, 


Mission Indians, acting for the Spanish, observed 
130 canoes hunting sea otters near the entrance 
to San Francisco Bay. 

Beginning in 1811, the San Francisco Presidio 
sent its second-highest ranking officer, Lieutenant 
Gabriel Moraga, to investigate Russian activities 
at Bodega Bay and later at Fort Ross. He was 
greeted by the Russians in a friendly manner, 
probably because he arrived prepared to engage in 
surreptitious trade. Lt. Moraga continued his trad- 
ing (and inspection) visits for several years, at the 
same time relaying to the Russians formal Spanish 
demands that the fort be evacuated — demands 
which, it can reasonably be concluded, were not 
taken very seriously by either party. In 1814 Lt. 
Moraga reported on the considerable cannon 
guarding the fort under construction, as well as 
the most amazing sight of all: glass windows in 
the Commandant's quarters. 

The Rurik thus arrived in San Francisco well 
aware of official Spanish outrage over Russian 
incursions into what they considered their territo- 
ry, as well as the Russians' violation of Spanish 
law strictly prohibiting the hunting of sea otters. 18 
However, the San Francisco Presidio, in its dire 
circumstances, had no resources to challenge the 
Russian settlements or the hunting of sea otters. 
The Spanish were, in fact, compelled by necessity 
to trade with the Russians, exchanging food need- 
ed by the Russians in their new colony for tools, 
cloth, and other basic supplies — trade which the 
new Spanish governor at Monterey, Pablo 
Vincente de Sola, called smuggling, although he, 
too, sometimes looked the other way. 19 

The Intriguing Men 
who Sailed Rurik 

Three participants in Run'k's voyage have 
gained a place in history; partly because each left 
behind a published record of her voyage, includ- 
ing her month long visit to San Francisco, but 
also because of their exceptional talents. The 
Rurik's captain was Otto von Kotzebue, a lieu- 
tenant in the Russian navy who, despite being 
only 28 years of age (all ages are stated as of the 

Otto von Kotzebue . Courtesy of Google images . 

commencement of the Rurik's voyage), had served 
as a cadet in the first circumnavigation of the 
world under the Russian flag. 20 He himself was an 
amateur naturalist, a field, as will be seen, in 
which Rurik had no shortage of talent. Because of 
this personal interest, Kotzebue provided strong 
support for his vessel's endeavors in natural histo- 
ry — in stark contrast to his predecessors in San 
Francisco, Vancouver and Rezanov, who can only 
be said to have sabotaged the efforts of their natu- 
ralists. The captain was best known, even at 
Rurik's foreign ports of call, as the son of August 
von Kotzebue, a world-famous German author 
and playwright. The Rurik was Otto von 
Kotzebue's first command. 

The second notable person on Rurik, and its 
most intriguing, was its naturalist, interpreter, and 
"titular scholar," as he was known, Adelbert von 
Chamisso, born Louis Charles Adelaide de 
Chamisso de Boncourt, a member of a French 
noble family. During the French Revolution, 


when Chamisso was only nine, his family's ances- 
tral castle was destroyed and they were forced to 
flee to Germany. In 1 796, at the age of fifteen, he 
obtained a position as a page for Louise, wife of 
the notorious Prussian emperor, Wilhelm 
Frederich. Two years later, he enlisted as an 
ensign in the Prussian army and in 1801 was pro- 
moted to lieutenant. Chamisso, however, was not 
suited to military life. When he was able to do so, 
he returned to Berlin and entered the German lit- 
erary world, writing plays and poetry in both 
French and German, as well as publishing a liter- 
ary magazine, Muses' Almanac. 

A Renaissance man of his day, Chamisso stud- 
ied botany, anatomy, and other scientific pursuits 
at the University of Berlin. He was also an 
accomplished artist. He loved languages and 
somehow found time to become fluent in 
Spanish, as well as his native French and 
German, not to mention Greek and Latin. He 
even acquired enough English to relish 
Shakespeare, although, Chamisso says, the only 

time he saw an Englishman laugh was when he 
tried to speak English to him. He also found time 
to engage in a string of well-documented 
romances, mainly with women of the literary 
world. With good looks, long and flowing hair, 
and a penchant for unusual and colorful clothing, 
he cut a striking figure. 

When the war with Napoleon broke out, how- 
ever, Chamisso was required to return to military 
service. He avoided having to fight his own 
French countrymen only because his garrison 
ignominiously surrendered without a shot being 
fired — no doubt to Chamisso's great relief. After 
being discharged from the army, he lived in both 
France and Germany, but felt, as he wrote to a 
friend, "I am nowhere at home." The world of sci- 
ence became his refuge. Chamisso's real fame, 
nevertheless, arose in the field of literature. In 
1813, he was inspired to write an allegorical fairy 
tale about Peter Schlemiehl, 21 who sells his shad- 
ow to the devil and finds himself shunned by all. 
Refusing to give up his soul to regain his shadow, 
he travels throughout the world in scientific pur- 
suits — a man without a country. 

5>cttr <3d>lcmil>l'« 

w U n l> < c f a R) t @<f$i$ft 


Xt.lblt! ton SfraouHo 

SHAtttfe 2Jjt:n CY k ftoR* Job^W. 


Chamisso as a young man. Courtesy of Google images. 

One of many cover illustrations 
worldwide for Chamisso's famous 
fairytale, "Peter Schiemiehl's 
Remarkable Story." It was through 
this fairy tale , published two years 
before Rurik's voyage, that he first 
became known as an author. 
Courtesy of Google images. 


The name of Chamisso's character, Peter 
Schlemiehl, is taken from the Yiddish word 
schlemiel, a hopelessly incompetent person. 
Chamisso's book, originally written as a fairly tale 
for the children of a friend, is by no means 
obscure, even today, and can easily be obtained 
from scores of online booksellers. The story has 
been translated into English (most recently in 
1993) and into practically every European lan- 
guage. It was performed on American television 
in 1953, starring DeForest Kelley of Star Trek 
fame, and is a subject of worldwide popular cul- 
ture to the present day. The parallels with 
Chamisso's own life are striking and even seem to 
foretell his Rurik adventure, as Chamisso himself 
later recognized. 

Chamisso read about the planned Rurik voyage 
in a newspaper and obtained recommendations 
from two of his professors for the position of voy- 
age naturalist, where his ambiguous nationality 
and political beliefs would be irrelevant. His pri- 
mary duties on the Rurik's voyage were collecting 
and identifying flora and fauna. While in San 
Francisco during late October and early 
November, during which time Chamisso was 
mostly presented with "a dry and arid field," he 
nevertheless collected approximately seventy dif- 
ferent plants, including two new genera and 
thirty-three new species. 

Best known among Chamisso's discoveries is 
the California Poppy, found on the Presidio's 
grounds, for which Chamisso chose a Latin gener- 
ic name, Eschscholtizia californica, honoring Rurik's 
doctor, Johann Friedrich Eschscholtz — also an 
accomplished naturalist and Chamisso's friend 
and assistant on Rurik. The species designation of 
the California Poppy is reportedly the first use of 
"California" in scientific nomenclature. (To 
reciprocate the honor, Eschscholtz named a bee- 
tle after Chamisso.) 22 

Chamisso, of course, did not really discover the 
California Poppy. It had long been used by 
Indians for its mild narcotic properties. The 
Spanish sometimes called it Copa de Oro, "Cup oi 
Gold." Fields of seemingly endless poppies could 
be seen from miles at sea, causing the California 
coastline to be described as La Tierra del Fuego, 

Illustration of the California Poppy, the California State 

Flower, drawn from Chamisso's original botanical specimen, 

first classified and described by him as a result of Rurik's 

San Francisco visit. This image was used to illustrate 

Chamisso's original botanical description of the flower. 

Courtesy of Google images. 

"Land of Fire." 2 ^ (Such vistas may be viewed 
today only at the Antelope Valley Poppy 
Reserve.) The poppy had even been collected in 
Monterey by the naturalist on Vancouver's vessel, 
Discovery, but erroneously described as identical 
to a European species. 24 Chamisso, however, was 
an expert taxonomist; his detailed botanical 
description of the California Poppy is all but inde- 
cipherable to the layman. 

Chamisso was interested in everything he saw, 
including the plight of Native Americans and 
their disappearing history. As he stated in his 
memoir: "Every fragment of the history or man is 


Hermann Richter painting, July 1938. Discovery of the California Poppy by Chamisso and Eschscholz, 1816. This is a painting 

commissioned by the University of California, Berkeley, for exhibition at the Golden Gate International Exposition at Treasure Island, 

1939. It is one of a series of paintings, now displayed at the university's Museum of Natural History, depicting important botanical 

discoveries made during early expeditions to California. The artist is Hermann Richter (1875-1941) , whose work may be best 

seen in San Francisco at Schroeder's German Restaurant in the form of large murals dating from 1932. Richter used Louis Choris's 

painting, Vue du Presidio San Francisco, as a model for the Presidio buildings and the landscape, adding the figures of Chamisso 

(left) and Eschscholtz, the naturalists from Rurik. Note that Richter took care to show Chamisso's trademark long hair and unusual 

clothing. Courtesy of the University of California, Berkeley, CA andjepson Herbaria. 

of importance." At the advanced age of thirty- 
three, he was the "old man" on Rurik. 

While most voyage narratives are rather dry 
reports by ship captains (and Kotzebue's are cer- 
tainly above average), in Chamisso we have the 
advantage of a shipboard participant and scientif- 
ically trained observer who also happens to be a 
talented writer and poet. His accounts are as 
engrossing as they are informative — comparable 
in many ways to Darwin's Voyage of the Beagle 

(1839), published only three years after 
Chamisso's Diary or Journal (1836). Like Voyage of 
the Beagle, Chamisso's Diary is an informal and 
entertaining account of a long and varied sea voy- 
age, based loosely upon the personal journal of 
the vessel's naturalist. Darwin had obviously read 
Chamisso's writings, referring to him in Beagle as 
"the justly famous naturalist who accompanied 
Kotzebue." (Chamisso's more formal Remarks and 
Opinions, or Notes and Opinions, his one- volume 


contribution to the official report on Run'k's voy- 
age, had been earlier published in 1821.) 
Chamisso's writings can stand on their own merits 
as literature and would be much better known in 
the United States, as they are Europe, had they 
been written originally in English. 

The third notable member of the Rurik crew 
was of lower status, but his contributions to our 
understanding of San Francisco in those early 
times is of equal or even greater importance. He 
was Louis, or Ludovik, Choris, the ship's artist, a 
twenty-year-old Ukranian Russian of German 
ancestry. Choris has been described by University 
of California Professor Thomas C. Blackburn as 
"one of the most talented artists of California 
Native American life during the late eighteenth 
and early nineteenth centuries." 25 

Like Chamisso, Choris had no prior seagoing 
experience, having only served as an artist, at age 

eighteen, on the Biberstein botanical expedition 
to the Caucasus Mountains. He had about one 
year's formal training at the Academy of Art in 
St. Petersburg. His instructors were sufficiently 
impressed to recommend him for the position of 
Run'k's artist, or "draftsman." As described in 
Choris's own words: 

At scarcely twenty years of age, I went as 
draftsman with this expedition, the expens- 
es of which were paid by Count Romanzoff, 
Chancellor of the Russian Empire. During 
the course of this voyage, which lasted 
three years, all the objects which struck my 
youthful imagination and my eyes were 
gathered and drawn by me, sometimes with 
the leisure permitted by an extended 
sojourn, sometimes with the rapidity made 
necessary by a short appearance. 26 

/si. ^ l— ft 

r us tut ■ Ttafctftet >'■ t><" 

Louis Choris lithograph, 1822. Vue du Presidio San Francisco. The enclosed portion of the Presidio is depicted in the left center, u'lt/i 
numerous trails crossing the vacant hind. At right center is a portion of the hay, with Rurik at anchor, Choris's only depiction of Rurik 
in San Francisco. Choris's original painting did not include the two Spaniards on horseback or the Indians they are directing. With the 
sole exception of the lone, galloping rider, Choris later added all of the human figures shown on the lithograph. Courtesy of the author. 


Louis Choris lithograph, 1822. Entrance to San Francisco Bay, also showing Farallon Islands, to be used as navigational aid. 

Courtesy of the author. 

He later wrote, 

I reproduced, for the most part, characteris- 
tic portraits of the peoples visited by the 
Rurik, including habitations, arms, musical 
instruments, and ornaments; and a few 
landscapes that I had drawn. 27 

During the month of October 1816, while 
Rurik was at San Francisco, Choris completed 
drawings and watercolors that are the most 
detailed and informative images in existence of 
Native Americans at the Mission and Presidio 
during this early period of San Francisco history. 
Several of his lithographs, published in Paris in 
1822, are shown here. (The content and making 
of the Choris lithographs will be discussed later in 
this article.) Chamisso honored Choris by nam- 
ing a California plant species after him, the 
Choris's Popcorn-flower. 

rurik at the presidio 

of San Francisco 

Although Capt. Kotzebue had in his possession 
a "passport" issued by the Spanish government 
and a Spanish Royal Order requiring all Spanish 
authorities to provide him with assistance during 
Rurik's voyage, because of Spanish-Russian ten- 
sions in the area he had good reason to be 
concerned about his reception in San Francisco. 
The Spanish nevertheless greeted the Russians 
with courtesy. Chamisso (who acted as Rurik's 
interpreter and translator) and Rurik's second in 
command, Lt. Shishmarev, were cordially met by 
the acting commandant of the Presidio, Luis 
Antonio Argiiello 28 (one of the sons of Jose 
Argiiello, the commandant during the 1806 visit 
of the Russian ship Juno). Fruits and vegetables 
were sent to Rurik, together with offers of 


Z Os<u> vtv <A 

Ursui irtwi 


/ / 

Louis Choris lithograph, 1822. The first published illustration of the California grizzly bear. This small bear was captured by Spanish 

soldiers for a bull/bear fight staged for the Rurik's crew. Choris painted the bear while it was tethered on the day prior to the fight. 

Both Chamisso, Rurik's naturalist, and Choris wrote with disapproval of the cruelty of the fight. (The bear defeated the bull.) 

Courtesy of the author. 

assistance from the commandant and from, as 
Chamisso put it, "the wealthier mission." 

The next evening, Capt. Kotzebue and 
Commandant Argiiello met at the Presidio, 
where the captain was respectfully received. The 
first order of business, however, was the captain's 
stubborn insistence that the Presidio provide the 
two missing gun salutes due to Rurik and her flag. 
According to Chamisso, 29 long negotiations 
ensued until Argiiello finally capitulated. 
Formalities thus satisfied, the parties were free to 
move on to more pleasant pursuits. The Russians 
were also able to provide assistance when they 
learned that the rope, or halyard, used to raise the 

flag on the Presidio flagpole had broken when last 
used and the Spanish had no one who was able to 
climb the flagpole. A sailor from Rurik was 
promptly dispatched to remedy the situation and 
the Spanish flag flew once again. 

During Rurik's San Francisco sojourn, dinners 
between the two groups were held regularly, 
either at the Presidio or in a large tent which the 
Rurik crew had pitched at their shoreside base, 
which also included a "Russian bath." The 
Russians usually acted as hosts due to the 
Presidio's meager resources. The commandant 
and officers of the Presidio took these opportuni- 
ties to complain grievously about their lack of 


support, not only from Mexico, but from the San 
Francisco Mission. As recounted hy Chamisso: 

The wretchedness in which they had been 
lanquishing for the past six or seven years, 
forgotten and abandoned by Mexico the 
motherland, prevented them from offering 
us their own hospitality. And the need to 
pour out their hearts drove them to us also, 
for we were a jolly and easy-going company. 
They spoke only with bitterness about the 
missionaries, who despite lack of outside 
supplies enjoyed an abundance of products 
from the land and yet, since the time had 
run out, would supply them, the Spanish 
soldiers, only on credit, and even then only 
with what was absolutely essential, and this 
did not include bread and flour. 30 

The Russians were much impressed, however, 
by the Spanish soldiers' displays of horsemanship, 
which, they agreed, was equal to the skills of 
Russian Cossacks. Chamisso was less impressed by 
the Spaniards' entertainment of "bear-baiting," in 
which a bear and a wild bull (all Spanish cattle 
ran wild) were tethered and made to fight to the 
death; he wrote that, "One must pity the poor 
creatures that are so shamefully treated." 
Kotzebue, on the other hand, called the spectacle 
"remarkable." (Despite being repeatedly tossed by 
the bull's horns, the small bear won the contest 
arranged for the Russians' benefit.) According to 
Kotzebue, bears were so numerous near San 
Francisco that soldiers would be sent to lasso a 
bear, at which they were remarkably adept 
(catching the feet first), "as we would order a 
cook to bring back a goose from the pen." 

Louis Choris lithograph, 1822. Habitants de Californie. One of the group portraits by Choris, 
depicting the various tribes at the Mission. Courtesy of the author. 


The Visitors' Observations 

of the indians and a 
Visit to Mission Dolores 

The purpose of this article is to focus on the 
observations of the Rurz'/c's authors, as recorded in 
their exceptional memoirs and reports. It may be 
useful background information, however, to sum- 
marize the undisputed changes in the structure of 
the Bay Area Indian tribes during the early years 
of Spanish colonization. As summarized by 
Randall Milliken in his book, A Time of Little 

In 1770 the political landscape of the San 
Francisco Bay region was a mosaic of tiny 
tribal territories, each some eight to twelve 

miles in diameter, each containing a popu- 
lation of some two hundred to four hundred 
individuals. By the year 1810, only forty 
years later, the tribal territories in all but 
the most northerly reaches of the San 
Francisco Bay Region were empty."- 1 

The originally expressed Spanish intent was to 
operate the various missions for ten years, after 
which the land would be transferred to the 
Indians. For various reasons, of course, this never 
came to pass. 

On October 4, the Feast of Saint Francis, the 
Russians were invited to the Mission, traveling 
there by horseback. As described by the captain, 
they observed Indians 32 being baptized and heard 
a concert by an "orchestra" consisting of "a cello, 

j.,/ij, i~* -■■■ 

S '/S'.'r >/ki A"/ s/,/s,. ■/, ' ,r/s/' + ,,,, a /u 


/'/* '/ f*f S/'S. I »/• // 

J .>: I 

til /I' / •! ' 

Louis Choris lithograph, 1822. Danse des habitants de Californe a la mission de San Francisco. 

Choris's depiction of native dance at the San Francisco mission may be the best known of his images. Choris reported (hat both the men 

and women would dance, although separately, and that the different tribes had distinct dances and chants. Much oj this native culture 

was soon lost as the Indians were kept at the Mission with less time and need fir tribal identity. Courtesy oj the author. 


Louis Choris lithograph. , J 822 . Headdresses worn by Indians at ceremonial dances . The visitors from Rurik observed 

native dances at the mission when they visited during a holiday. Choris took care to depict the clothing, facial markings, 

and features of the Indians, also distinguishing among the various tribes. Courtesy of the author. 

violin and two flutes; these instruments were 
played by little half-naked Indian children and 
created a great din." The visitors were then guests 
at a dinner "where there was no lack of food and 
wine, the latter produced by the missionaries 
themselves." After eating, they were shown the 
Indians living quarters. The captain stated, with 
obvious disapproval, that, "The filthiness of these 
barracks was undescribable (sic) and may account 
for the high mortality rate here." (The same 
unsanitary conditions had been observed by 
Vancouver fourteen years earlier. But in their trib- 
al culture, according to Bancroft, the Indians 
would simply move their village when too much 
trash accumulated — a reasonable solution it 
would seem.) 

Capt. Kotzebue went on to explain that, "Both 
sexes must work hard." The men cultivated the 
fields (not a usual task for Indian men, who saw 
themselves as hunters), while the women spun 
wool and wove a coarse cloth. According to 
Kotzebue, some of the harvest was provided to the 
soldiers, with only as much given the Indians as 
required "for their subsistence." (Choris disagrees 
with Kotzebue, saying the Indians were provided 
abundant food.) Indians were, however, provided 
small pieces of land which they could cultivate on 
their own time. 

The day being a holiday, the Indians were not 
working. Some participated in a popular gambling 
game, throwing sticks on the ground and betting 
on odd or even. Others took part in tribal dances, 


"with their faces daubed in the most frightful 
manner." Men and women both participated, 
although separately, with dances varying accord- 
ing to tribe. The game and dancing were each the 
subject of oft-reproduced paintings by Choris. In 
several "group portraits" of the Indians, he 
showed each person as an individual, taking care 
to illustrate dress and features, including facial 
tattoos or other markings — even the headdresses 
worn during dancing. He carefully identified on 
his paintings the tribe, or band, which each 
Indian represented. In his later book on the voy- 
age, he even went on to list, as did Chamisso, 
which groups of Indians were most numerous at 
the mission and which spoke the same lan- 
guage. 33 Choris' paintings are therefore much 
more than generic illustrations of native life; he 
was painting for posterity. 

Choris even attempted to record the Indians' 
chant in musical notation, the first printed record 
of music in early California: 

Alii. CAM FORM F.N. 

& I'r • : I 1 . 

,V J « ' - - * « i> ' » ~ ' » » m *' 

How successful Choris was in this attempt no 
one can tell (Chamisso was skeptical), but his 
effort demonstrates a remarkable dedication to 
preserving the Indians' culture. Professor August 
Mahr, in his book on the Rurik's visit to San 
Francisco, opines that, in some ways, "Choris 
betrays a keener interest in ethnology" than 
Chamisso. 34 Choris, however, unlike Kotzebue 
and Chamisso, was largely uncritical of the meth- 
ods employed by the mission system as a whole. 

As described by the Russians, Indians entered 
the missions voluntarily, where they were provid- 
ed food and clothing and were free to come and 
go. However, those who were converted and bap- 
tized (becoming "Neophytes") "belong to the 
church. . . . The church has an inalienable right 
to her children, and exercises this right with 
rigor." As succinctly expressed by Millikan in A 
Time of Little Choice, "The decision to reject a 
mission life could be made a thousand times, but 

the decision to join a mission community could 
be made only once." 35 Twice a year, the Indians 
were usually permitted to return to their families 
for a few weeks. Some did not return, but others 
brought in new, potential converts. Those who 
fail to return, Chamisso states: 

become the bitterest enemies of the 
Spaniards [whom] the missionaries endeav- 
or, on their excursions, to regain by gentle 
means; and if they do not succeed, they 
have recourse to armed force. Hence many 
of the hostile events between the Spaniards 
and Indians. 36 

While both Chamisso and Choris took care to 
identify by name and language about fifteen sepa- 
rate Indian tribes (or bands), Chamisso wrote 
that none of the missionaries "seems to have had 
any concern for the Indians' history, customs, 
beliefs or languages." The Indians did not under- 
stand the Latin of the mass they were required to 
attend or the sermons conducted in Spanish. As a 
result, Capt. Kotzebue observed, "It is incompre- 
hensible to me how the natives have been taught 
the Christian religion at all." 

Chamisso and Kotzebue both expressed dismay 
in their writings that Indians in the California 
missions were dying in tragic numbers — mostly 
the result, as we now know, of lack of immunity 
against common European diseases. 37 As reported 
by Chamisso: 

The Indians die in the missions, in an 
alarming and increasing proportion. San 
Francisco [mission] contains about a thou- 
sand Indians: the number ot deaths, in the 
last year [1815], exceeded three hundred; it 
amounts already this year (till October) to 
two hundred and seventy, of which forty 
occurred during the last month. . . . The 
converted people [in some of the older mis- 
sions] may be considered as nearly 



In an effort to mitigate the alarming Indian 
mortality, the San Francisco Mission established 
during the following year, 1817, a "rancho" in the 
more salubrious climate o\ present-day Marin 


LuX ./. l..» f L~: . £ eaiLy. it, 




Louis Choris lithograph, 1822 showing Indians playing native gambling game at the Mission. Sticks were thrown into the air and the 

participants would bet on how they would fall. A referee presided. Choris reports that the Indians had to be prohibited from wagering 

their clothing. Reportedly, a similar Indian game was still being played in recent years. Courtesy of the author. 

County, to serve as a sanitarium for ailing Indians. 
Originally, 240 Indians were transferred to the 
colony with good results. By the end of 1820, the 
number had increased to 590 and the settlement 
soon became self-sustaining. Named San Rafael 
Arcangel (in honor of the "healing saint"), it is 
commonly known as the San Rafael Mission, 
although technical mission status was never con- 
ferred upon it. 39 Historians justifiably contend, 
however, that both the San Rafael and the 
Sonoma Mission (the twenty-first and final 
California mission, established in 1823, and the 
only mission opened during Mexican rule) were 
also established as buffers against Russian territo- 
rial expansion in Northern California. 

Chamisso and Kotzebue's opinions regarding the 
work of the missions were summarized by Chamisso 
(who, himself, was a Catholic), as follows: 

Overall, the contempt which the mission- 
aries have for the people, to whom they are 
sent, seems to us, considering their pious 
occupation, a very unfortunate circum- 
stance. None of them appear to have 
troubled themselves about their history, 
customs, religions, or languages: "They are 
irrational savages, and nothing more can be 
said of them. Who would trouble himself 
with their stupidity? Who would spend his 

time upon it 



In fairness, it should be noted that Chamisso 
was evenhanded in his criticism, equally con- 
demning the Russian treatment of native people 
in Alaska. 

While thus very critical of the condescending 
attitude of the missionaries toward their Indian 
charges, Chamisso also reported occasions in 
which the Indians were permitted and encouraged 
to participate in diversions from their usual rou- 
tine, even including a "field trip" to the Rurik: 

The fathers sent the Indians in their hoat to 
our anchoring-place, merely that they 
might look at our ship, which was a new 
object to them. The Indian, in the mission, 
dances his national dances, on Sunday, in 
presence of the fathers, and plays, always for 
gain, his usual game of chance; he is only 
forbidden to stake his coat, a piece of 
coarse, woolen cloth, manufactured in the 
mission; he can also enjoy the hot-bath, to 
which he has been accustomed. The dances 
are boisterous, different in each tribe, and 
the tune generally without words. The game 
is played between two antagonists, at "odd 
or even," with short sticks; an umpire keeps 
the account with other sticks. The usual 
bath of the Indian, like that of most of the 
northern nations, is as follows: at the 
entrance of a cave at the sea-shore, in 
which the bathers are, a great fire is made; 
they suffer it to go out, when they have per- 
spired sufficiently, and then leap over it, and 
plunge into the sea. 41 

Chamisso did agree with the Spanish that, with 
the exception of one tribe, which he called the 
Tcholvonians (now identified by Professor James J. 
Rawls as the Northern Yakuts, 42 or Chukchansi— 
see Choris's lithograph of two Indians with bow 
and arrow), the Indians of the Bay Area "are far 
below those on the north coast, and the interior of 
America."* 3 However, those familiar with pre-mis- 
sion descriptions of Indians on San Francisco Bay, 
particularly the journals of "first encounters," can- 
not help but be struck by the disparity between 
those descriptions and the descriptions and opin- 
ions expressed by the visitors from the Rurik. 

The major chroniclers of these first contacts 
between Europeans and Indians on the very 
shores of the Bay are Fr. Juan Crespi (Crespi/Fages 
expedition, on foot from Monterey, 1772) 44 and 
Fr. Vincente Santa Maria (Ayala expedition on 
the San Carlos, the first vessel to enter the Bay, 
1775). 45 Although the two parties came into con- 
tact with Indians at different locations on San 
Francisco Bay, each account is nearly identical in 
describing them as social, curious, communica- 
tive, generous with food and gifts, and remarkably 
intelligent. Fr. Santa Maria marveled at how easi- 
ly the Indians learned Spanish and even 
remembered, from one meeting to another, the 
names of individuals. "It was astonishing with 
what facility they pronounced the Spanish." 46 
These were not the Indians described by 

It has been said that Chamisso sailed to the 
New World embracing the idealized concept of 
the "noble savage." While these specific beliefs 
may be doubted, 47 there is no question that 
Chamisso left with high expectations of native 
peoples. Those expectations were largely met in 
the Rurik's later travels in the South Seas, but not 
in California. Chamisso could not have known 
that he came to San Francisco forty years too late. 

Diplomatic Maneuvers 

Soon after Rurilis arrival, the recently appoint- 
ed Spanish governor at Monterey, Don Paulo 
Vincente de Sola, sent to Capt. Kotzebue a "very 
polite letter" expressing his support and promising 
to come to San Francisco to meet personally. The 
governor came to the Presidio as promised on 
October 18. Two Presidio artillerymen were 
injured during the cannon salutes announcing the 
governor's arrival, and the Rurik's doctor, 
Eschscholtz, was called upon to provide emer- 
gency medical aid. Chamisso wrote that the 
Spanish had no medical personnel at either the 
Presidio or the Mission and that about the only 
treatment given for illness was blood-letting, 
which Chamisso correctly opined did more harm 
than good. 




tsC/UWP* ■' ' ' 

/., ',f/* f/. .>' ■ ''///'< '■ •' ' 

Louis Choris lithogragh, 1822. Tcholovonis Hunting by San Francisco Bay. Now identified as the Northern Yakuts, this tribe 
cooperated with the Spanish but maintained its independence. Apparently, none of them joined the mission. This is the only tribe praised 

by name by the Rurik visitors for their expert craftsmanship in making weapons , particularly bows and arrows "of extraordinary 
elegance." The Indian-made objects shown by Choris in a separate lithograph are probably all made by this tribe. Courtesy of the author. 

Capt. Kotzebue's stubbornness asserted itself 
again and, in a breach of protocol to the higher 
ranking Sola, Kotzebue remained on board Rurik 
while the Governor, in his full dress uniform, 
waited for him at the Presidio. The captain 
assigned to Chamisso the awkward task of inform- 
ing Sola that he was expected on board ship. The 
scene, as described by Chamisso, could be from a 
Charlie Chaplin movie: 

I found the little man in full dress uniform, 
bedecked with medals and ribbons, except 

for a sleeping cap that he was still wearing 
on his head, ready to be snatched off at a 
moment's notice. I carried out my mission 
as best I could and saw the old man's face 
drop to three times its normal length. He 
bit his lip and said that, unfortunately, he 
had no stomach for the sea before eating 
and that he was sorry in the meantime to 
have to forego the pleasure of meeting the 




Adelbert von Chamisso, 1831 . 
Courtesy of Google images. 

Sola was about to give up and return to 
Monterey when Chamisso, always the reasonable 
one, mediated the impasse by arranging that Sola 
and Kotzebue meet at the beach when the cap- 
tain came to Ruri/c's tent to adjust the ship's 
chronometers. The two men approached each 
other and, as so colorfully expressed by Chamisso, 
"Spain and Russia, each going halfway, fell into 
one another's open arms." All hard feelings passed 
and that evening, at a "feast" at the Presidio, 
obviously supplied by the Mission, the parties 
toasted the friendship of their respective nations 
"to salvos of artillery." (Apparently the Presidio's 
artillerymen had sufficiently recovered.) 

On the following day, Rurik hosted a dinner 
and in the evening there was a dance at the 
Presidio, newly renovated with adobe and a tile 
roof. On this occasion, Chamisso noted that 
Capt. Kotzebue was "ingratiating and charming," 
which he could clearly be when he wanted to, 

even winning over the previously reluctant 
Governor Sola. The next day, October 18, Ivan 
Koskov, the Russian Commandant at Fort Ross, 
arrived in a "scow" with abundant supplies for 
Rurik, as requested by Capt. Kotzebue. 

A few days later, on October 26, Kuskov 
returned for a "diplomatic conference" with 
Governor Sola, Commandant ArgiAello, captain 
Kotzebue, and Chamisso. Sola reiterated his 
demands of the past years that the Russians order 
an evacuation of Fort Ross. Surprisingly, the 
Russians did not disagree that the settlement was 
unauthorized, and Kuskov (the founder of both 
the Bodega Bay and Fort Ross settlements) said 
he would be only too willing to close Fort Ross if 
so ordered by his superior, Alexander Baranov, 
the head of the Russian- American Company in 
Sitka. The Russians were being disingenuous, 
however. Baranov, an autocrat who was largely 
responsible for Russian development on the 
California coast, was about as likely to order the 
abandonment of Fort Ross as he was to start grow- 
ing bananas. After all, the settlement had been 
built as a fort to defend against attack, and not 
from the local Kashia (or Kashaya) band of Porno 
Indians, with whom the Russians had excellent 
relations. The Kashia had even been employed to 
help construct the fort. Fort Ross had been built 
to resist a Spanish attack — which had never 
come and never would. 

The parties eventually agreed to sign a joint 
statement, or "protocol" (negotiated and drafted 
in part by Chamisso — the "memorable events of 
my diplomatic career," as he wrote), to be deliv- 
ered to their respective sovereigns. The statement 
expressed the Spanish complaints and demands 
regarding the Fort Ross. In exchange, Sola prom- 
ised to undertake no violent measures against the 
Russian settlement, which, as Chamisso observed, 
would have been very unlikely in any event. The 
agreement thus amounted to little more than a 
capitulation by the Spanish, who had no reason 
to expect that any heed would be paid to their 
complaints. This, of course, is exactly what 
occurred. According to Chamisso's later accounts, 
the protocol was never presented to Czar 
Alexander, but was merely tiled away with "the 


proper ministerial department." Indeed, no 
mention of the conference or protocol was made 
in Capt. Kotzehue's official report on the voyage 
and it is only through Chamisso's more candid, 
unofficial "Diary" that we learn of them. 49 

The Run'lc's brief excursion into diplomatic 
waters thus came to an inconclusive end, as the 
Russians no doubt intended; nevertheless, the 
meeting contributed to the vessel's continued 
friendly reception at San Francisco. Following 
RuriWs visit, Governor Sola moderated his harsh 
position on foreign trade, which had been a 
Russian goal since Rezanov's visit in 1806. During 
the few remaining years of Spanish rule, until 
Mexican rule commenced in 1822, mutually ben- 
eficial commerce was conducted at California 
ports, although still formally restricted under 
Spanish law. 50 

The Russians hosted a farewell dinner under 
their tent on Sunday, October 26, with ample 
toasts to their respective monarchs, nations, the 
governor, and so on. The wine, apparently, was 
running freely. As was observed in Chamisso's 
diary, "A good missionary dipped his mantle too 
deep in the juice of the grape, and reeled visibly 
under the burden." On October 30, Rurik took on 
board fresh water, livestock, and vegetables "in 
the greatest abundance," in addition to a cask of 
wine — the personal gift of Governor Sola. The 
captain wrote that, on the following day, "our 
friends from the Presidio dined with us at noon 
on the Rurik." Some of the crew rode to the mis- 
sion to pay their final respects. 

On the morning of Nov. 1, 1816, All Saints Day, 
Rurik weighed anchor at nine a.m. as the fog dissi- 
pated. "Singularly beautiful was the spectacle 
displayed for us at our departure," gushed 
Chamisso, "when the mist would sometimes hide 
and sometimes unveil the different peaks and val- 
leys of the coast." 51 The waters of the Bay itself 
were caused to shine by phosphorescent marine 
organisms. Rurik, however, departed the Bay with- 
out notice while the Spaniards were at 
services — "very rapidly and suddenly" as reported 
to Gov. Sola by the obviously surprised Argiiello. 52 
Nevertheless, on this occasion those at the Presidio 
did not hesitate to provide a seven-gun salute. 

Rurik and Her Men 
After San Francisco 

Upon leaving San Francisco, Runic spent four 
months in Hawaii (then the Sandwich Islands), 
where Choris continued to complete historic 
paintings, including the only existing portrait of 
King Kamahamaha I, in flowing robes, painted 
shortly before the king's death. This iconic por- 
trait is now displayed at the prestigious Honolulu 
Academy of Arts. Choris wanted the captain to 
leave him in Hawaii until Runic returned the fol- 
lowing year, but the suggestion was not approved. 
After visiting other Pacific islands, Rurik returned 
to Alaska and the Bering Sea during the spring 
and summer of 1817. In July, because of increased 
ice flows and the captain's ill health, Capt. 
Kotzebue abandoned the search for a Northwest 
Passage — a decision which Chamisso later severe- 
ly criticized, arguing that the second officer 
should have been permitted to continue the mis- 
sion. Rurik returned briefly to Hawaii in the fall of 
1817 before completing her voyage with stops at 
Guam, Manila, Cape Town, Portsmouth, 
England, and Copenhagen. 

Long after having been given up as lost (Rurik 
had left Europe with only two years' provisions 
and had no way to send mail home after leaving 
San Francisco), Runic returned to Kronstadt on 
July 31, 1818. She had completed her circumnav- 
igation of the globe in three years and one day. 
Four days later, Rurik anchored in the Neva River, 
near St. Petersburg, in front of the castle of her 
sponsor, Count Rumyantsev. 

Less than a year after Capt. Kotzebue's return, 
his father, the acclaimed German author and 
playwright, was stabbed to death in his home by a 
fanatical theology student — a tragedy which the 
German government seized upon as justification 
for imposing the Carlsbad Decrees — harsh restric- 
tions on freedom of speech and press. Kotzebue 
continued work on an account of the voyage and, 
from 1821 to 1823, published a three- volume nar- 
rative, the third volume consisting of Chamisso's 
contribution. His health restored, his naval career 
continued, and commencing in 1823, he com- 
manded a much larger vessel, Predpriatie, on a 


three-year voyage to South and North America 
and the South Seas. On September 27, 1824, 
with California then under Mexican rule, he 
anchored his ship once again in the harbor of San 
Francisco. (This was the notorious episode in San 
Francisco history in which the Presidio had to 
obtain gunpowder from the arriving ship in order 
to return a proper salute.) 

Joined on this voyage by his best friend from 
the Rurik, Dr. Eschscholtz, Capt. Kotzebue spent 
two months anchored in the San Francisco Bay 
while traveling to the missions at Santa Clara and 
San Jose and exploring present-day Marin and 
Sonoma Counties, including visits to Fort Ross 
and the more recently established missions at San 
Rafael and Sonoma. Kotzebue retired from naval 
service in 1829 to write a detailed account of his 
second voyage. He died in 1846. A city, Kotzebue 
(the home o{ the 201 1 Iditarod winner), and 
Kotzebue Sound in Alaska, are named after him. 

Rurik's naturalist, Adelbert von Chamisso, 
returned to Berlin, where he received many hon- 
ors, including election to the Royal Prussian 
Academy of Sciences and appointments as cura- 
tor of the Royal Botanical Gardens and director 
of the Royal Herbarium. Multi-volume editions of 
his works appeared between 1831 and 1836. 
Chamisso's book on Pacific travel, published in 
1836, became a bestseller of its day. His social and 
political writings, romance ballads, and poetry 
were all successful. His linguistic skills led him to 
publish the first grammar of the Hawaiian lan- 
guage, based on his studies during the Rurik 
voyage. He married the daughter of a friend and 
continued literary and scientific writing until his 
untimely death from illness in 1838, at the age of 
57. In 1840, two years after Chamisso's death, a 
lyrical cycle of his love poems was set to music by 
Robert Schumann. (Grieg likewise favored his 
work with a musical composition.) A perform- 
ance of the Schumann/Chamisso musical and 
vocal piece was recorded in September 2010, and 
may be seen and heard on the Internet today. 

A feud developed in the writings of Chamisso 
and Kotzebue, who had never really gotten along 
on a personal basis, each accusing the other of 
improprieties during Rurik's voyage. Chamisso, in 

particular, criticized Kotzebue for too easily aban- 
doning the search for a Northwest Passage. 
Chamisso got the last word when his Diary was 
published in 1836. 33 In Munich, an annual litera- 
ture prize is awarded in Chamisso's name. An 
island, appropriately located in Kotzebue Sound, 
Alaska, and an Alaskan Wilderness Area, desig- 
nated by Congress in 1975, are named for him. 
The National Park Service at the Presidio of San 
Francisco maintains, to this day, a website honor- 
ing his work. 54 

The Choris Lithographs 

Louis Choris first attempted to duplicate his 
Rurik paintings as engraved plates for Kotzebue's 
official report on the Rurik's voyage, but was 
unsatisfied with the results. After going to Paris 
for further study in 1819, however, he found his 
medium: lithography, a new process invented in 
1796. Choris made arrangements with the one of 
the best lithographers in Paris to make reproduc- 
tions of his drawings and paintings. In simple 
terms, lithographs were made by drawing or 
painting an image in wax or other oily substance 
directly upon a flat stone. After etching with acid, 
the stone was washed with water and used to 
transfer ink to paper. In most cases, lithographic 
reproductions were copied from the original 
image by artists employed by the lithographer. 
Once again not being completely satisfied with 
these efforts, Choris learned the process himself 
and personally drew many, if not most, of his 
images directly on the lithographic stone, thus 
participating in the total process. 

In 1822, Choris published in Paris a book of 
the Rurik lithographs, including a chapter with 
his San Francisco narrative. " The volume con- 
tains a total of 104 plates of native life, culture, 
and natural history, with twelve plates in the San 
Francisco chapter. The remainder of the book 
contains equally noteworthy depictions of the 
Hawaiian Islands (including the famous 
Kamehameha portrait), Chile, Alaska, the 
Philippine Islands, and Easter Island. 

In a 2005 auction description of Choris's 
book,' 10 historian W. Michael Mathes states: 


L&L A— fUmJU 

/„„/., a , u . 

Louis Choris lithograph, 1822. Habitants de Californie. Courtesy of the author. 

Choris employed the newly developed 
process of etching on stone, lithography, to 
produce some of the most extraordinary 
plates to appear in relation to a scientific 
voyage. Noted for their accuracy and lack 
of romanticism or other exaggerations, 
these plates illustrate observations made 
during the voyage . . . and are considered 
fundamental to ethnographic, botanical, 
and zoological descriptions of these areas. 

Professor Mathes further explains: 

In the present work, about ninety of the 
lithographs were drawn by Choris directly 
on the lithographic stone, resulting in spec- 
tacular lithography imparting a real 
immediacy and connection to Choris's 
original artwork. 

The Choris lithographs are thus unusual, and 
considered by many to have greater authenticity, 
to the extent that they more nearly represent the 
work of the original artist. 57 Chromolithography, 
or color printing, was not invented until 1837, so 
Choris's lithographs had to be individually hand 
colored. (Because of the expense, many of the 
books were sold with uncolored images.) A bibli- 
ographer has called Choris's publication one of 
the most beautiful books of travel in existence. 

Choris's San Francisco lithographs are 
duplicated in countless books about early 
California and Native American history. 
Unique in the annals of San Francisco his- 
tory, nine of the Choris lithographs depict, 
with obvious respect and great detail, the 
appearance, dress, and customs of the 
Native Americans encountered by Choris 


Louis Chuns lithograph, 1822. California Sea Lion. Fortunately for the sea lion, it did not have a desirable pelt like the sea otter, 
which was hunted by the Russians and others to near extinction. Courtesy of the author. 

at the Presidio and Mission, including one 
illustration of a bow, fox skin quiver and 
four woven baskets. Capt. Kotzebue 
endorsed the accuracy of his depictions, 
stating, "How the Indians dress here can be 
clearly seen here from Mr. Choris's illustra- 
tions." Two other lithographs are also 
historic in portraying a sea lion (probably 
the first such depiction in California) and 
the first published image of the California 
grizzly bear. The grizzly bear lithograph was 
modeled by Choris after the unfortunate 
bear which was captured for the fight with 
a bull, staged for Rurik visitors — little won- 
der its downtrodden appearance. Another 
drawing depicts, as a navigational aid, an 
elevation of the entrance to San Francisco 

Bay, the Farallon Islands, and Point Reyes. 

A leading work on early California lithographs 
describes the Choris lithographs of San Francisco 
as "monumental" and "beautifully colored."' 
Professor Edward Mornin, in his recent book on 
Rurik's San Francisco visit, particularly praised 
Choris's success in achieving realistic portrayals of 
Native Americans: 

That Choris nevertheless achieved splendid 
depictions of the Indians, and not only of groups, 
but of individuals, is to be ascribed to his mastery 
of the realistic portrait style. He neither romanti- 
cizes nor heroizes (sic) them; nor do his portrayals 
tend to classical norms, as is observable in the 
work of some of his predecessors." 10 

Choris could not resist when another opportunity 


Louis Choris lithograph, 1822. Arms and Utensils of California. Choris reported a great disparity in the quality of crafts made by the 
Indians. The items shown in this illustration are among those he most admired, probably made by the tribe now ideiitified as the 

Northern Yakuts . Courtesy of the author. 

arose to portray the New World. During his sec- 
ond visit to America, he was attacked and killed 
by bandits while riding near Vera Cruz, Mexico, 
on March 22, 1828, his thirty-third birthday. 
Banditry was endemic to that area and it can only 
be assumed that Choris knew he was risking his 
life by traveling then, as indeed he had on many 
earlier occasions during Rurik's voyage. 

The contributions of Louis Choris to our 
understanding of the native peoples and times of 
the early nineteenth century are irreplaceable, 
not only in San Francisco, but in Hawaii and the 
South Seas, in Alaska and the Aleutian Islands, 
and in all the varied locales which became sub- 
jects of his study and talent. In the years before 
photography, representational artists such as 
Choris provided the only means by which distant 

travelers could capture an image and bring it 
home. This was how the American West first 
became widely understood, spurring further 
exploration and settlement. A very few have felt 
the need to criticize fine points of artistic merit in 
Choris's work, but they are missing the point. It 
was not Choris's purpose to create fine art. His 
responsibility was to convey knowledge, and this 
he did admirably and with great skill. Choris's 
attention to detail and the extraordinary care he 
took to ensure the quality of his published litho- 
graphs are particularly praiseworthy. The 
continued appreciation, use, and study of his 
work — not only in California but throughout the 
world — constitute his true legacy. 




(Lat. nord, 3; < V | 8' ■>. '," ,• long, ouest , i -i \" a 8' i V 

Lot ao scptcmbrc i8if>, vifii\ style a octobre . i s eumes 

<lc bonne heure connaissance de la cote de la Nouvelle-Oilifornie. 
CVtait la Punta-de-los-Reyes an nord du Puerto-San-Francisco 
Comme le vent nous etail tres-favorable , nous eumes bicntol 
passe Ics Iarellones, ecucils dangcrcux , cl a miatre heurcs apres 
audi, nous enframes dans le port San-Francisco Le port, pla, c en 

dedans <i Mr la cote meridionale de rentrec.est ni de tout n 

qui est necessaire pour la defendre avec avantage. 

Le Presidio dc San-Franrisro est a-peu-pres a on millc niarin 
de distance du (oil el dn meme cote; sa forme est carree; il a 
dfii\ portes toujours occupees par une garde assc/. nombreusc ; Irs 
feftelres ne sont ouvertes que sur la cour; il est babitc par (plain*, 
vingt-dix soldats espagnols, on commandant, no lieutenant, on 
( (imiiiissain- el mi sergent La plupart sont maries. homines 
ft les feiiunrs sont grands cl bien batis; trcs-peu <lc soldals mil 
epouse des Indicnncs. 

Tons < is sold.ils sont bons cavaliers; deux peuvenl aiseraent 
tenir en respect cinquante Indiens. 


First page of the San Francisco chapter of Louis Choris's book, 

published in Paris in 1822. This travel book 0/ Rurik's voyage 

around the world was subscribed to by sovereigns and nobility. 

It contains all of Choris's lithographs shown in this article. 

Courtesy of the author. 


Paul Gary Sterling ("Gary") is a maritime lawyer 
and a founder of the San Francisco maritime law firm 
of Sterling & Clack, to which he is presently "of coun- 
sel." He is an avid collector of books, ephemera and 
other materials relating to San Francisco. For many 
years, he was able to combine his legal and historical 
interests by serving as counsel for San Francisco's 
World War II Liberty Ship, SS Jeremiah O'Brien. 
Gary's particular interest m San Francisco's maritime 
history led him to write the present article about the 
1816 visit of the Rurik, which he researched from 
books and materials in his collection. He wishes to 
thank Kalian Sterling for photographing the original 
Choris lithographs reproduced in this article. He may 
be reached at 

1 . Approximately ninety soldiers were assigned to the 
Presidio, hut at any one time many would he absent, 
assigned to missions or on other detached duty. 

2. Mission San Francisco de Assis (St. Francis of Assisi) 
was commonly called Mission Dolores because of its 
location at its founding on the elusive Laguna Dolores, 
soon to be erased from local memory. Both the Presidio 
and Mission were founded in 1776 forty years before 
Rurik's visit. 

3. Prior to Rurik's voyage, the best known non-Spanish 
vessels to have entered San Francisco Bay were George 
Vancouver's HMS Discovery in April 1792 and again in 
1793 and the Russian ship Juno on the "Rezanov 
Voyage," in April 1806 ten years before Rurik. It has 
erroneously been stated that Discovery and Juno were 
the only non-Spanish vessels to have preceded Rurik to 
San Francisco. Although the visit of any vessel, even a 
Spanish vessel, was unusual, Bancroft, in his monumen- 
tal, seven-volume History of California (San Francisco: 
The History Company, 1886), vol. II, chronicles voy- 
ages to San Francisco from 1792 to 1816 by at least 
eleven vessels from England, the United States, Russia, 
and Peru. 

4. Fort San Joaquin was the predecessor of Fort Point, con- 
structed by the Spanish in 1794- 

5. The tirst-hand accounts of Rurik's San Francisco visit, 
originally published in German and French, have all 
been translated into English, most recently by Professor 
Edward Mornin, Through Alien Eyes, The Visit of the 
Russian Ship Rurik to San Francisco in 1 81 6 and the Men 
behind the Visit (Bern, Switzerland: Peter Lang, 2002). 
See also, August C. Mahr, The Visit of the "Rurik" to San 
Francisco in 1816 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 
1932); Adelbert von Chamisso (Henry Kratz, ed.), A 
Voyage Around the World with the Romanzov Exploring 
Expedition in the Years 1815-1818 m the Bng Rurik 
(Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1986); Adelbert 
von Chamisso (Oscar Lewis, preface), A Sojourn at San 
Francisco Bay 1816 by Adelbert von Chamisso, Scientist of 
the Russian Exploring Ship Rurik, Illustrated by a Series of 
Drawirigs, First Published in 1822 by Rurik's Artist Louis 
Choris (San Francisco: Book Club of California, 1936); 
Louis Choris (first translation from French, by Porter 
Garnett), San Francisco One Hundred Years Ago (San 
Francisco: A.M. Robertson, 19 H). 

6. Charles A. Fracchia, Fire & Cold. The San Francisco 
Story (Encinitas, California: Heritage Media 
Corporation, 1996), pp. 17-21. The only comparable 
early images of Native Americans in Northern 
California were made at Mission San Jose during the 
Rezanov Expedition in 1806. 


7. "Eshscholtz and von Chamisso Spend a Month at the 
Bay of San Francisco," Fremonda 26:3 (July 1998, origi- 
nally published by Harvard University, 1956). 

8. There is little agreement upon the English spelling of 
the count's surname, which appears variously as 
Rumiantsev, Rumjanoff, Rumiantzof, Rumanzoff, 
Romanzoff, Romanzov, Rumanzov, and more. 
"Rumyantsev" is arbitrarily chosen here as the form 
used by the Encyclopedia Britannica. 

9. "Eshscholtz and Von Chamisso Spend a Month at the 
Bay of San Francisco," Fremontia 26:3 (July 1998). 

10. The first published illustration of what is now San 
Francisco is a drawing of the Presidio, as seen from the 
water, with Indians in one of their tule (reed) canoes in 
the foreground, attributed to the surgeon/naturalist on 
that voyage, Georg Heinrich F von Langsdorff. See 
John Phillip Langellier and Daniel B. Rosen, El Presidio 
de San Francisco, A History under Spain and Mexico 
1776-1846 (Spokane; Arthur H. Clark Co., 1996), p. 
119. A more sophisticated rendition of Indians in a tule 
canoe is included in the Choris lithographs. 

11. The romance between Nicolai Rezanov and 
Conception Argiiello has been memorialized in a novel 
by Gertrude Atherton (surprisingly accurate) and a 
poem by Bret Harte (less accurate, though moving), as 
well as in scores of other accounts. In an exhaustive 
work of scholarship, Eve Iversen sets the record straight 
in The Romance of Nikolai Rezanov and Conception 
Argiiello (Kingston, Ontario: The Limestone Press, 

12. August C. Mahr, The Visit of the "Rurik" to San Francisco 
in 1816 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1932). 

13. Ibid, pp. 21-27. 

14- Edward Momin, Through Alien Eyes, The Visit of the 
Russian Ship Rurik to San Francisco in 1816 and the Men 
behind the Visit (Bern, Switzerland: Peter Lang, 2002). 

15. Adelbert von Chamisso (Henry Kratz, ed.), A Voyage 
Around the World with the Romanzov Exploring Expedition 
in the Years 1815-1818 in the Brig Rurik (Honolulu: 
University of Hawaii Press, 1986). 

16. Ibid, p. 100. 

17. Fort Ross (from Rossiya or Ros, meaning "Russian,") was 
often called "Port Bodega" by the Russians, including 
Rurilis writers — leading to no end of confusion. Nowhere 
in any of the Rurik narratives is the term "Fort Ross" used. 
In the "protocol" signed by the Spanish and the Russians 
from Rurik, Fort Ross is enigmatically described only as 
the permanent post of Kuskov, "eight miles north of the 
harbor of Bodega." Mahr, The Visit of the "Rurik," p. 119. 
See also Mornin, Through Alien Eyes, p. 96 and Erwin G. 
Gudde, California Place Names, The Origin and Etymohgy 
of Current Geographical Names 3rd ed., rev. (Berkeley: 
University of California Press, 1969), pp. 33, 1 1 3. 

18. Poaching of sea otters was rampant, and not only hy the 
Russians. According to Choris, two hundred and fifty 
American vessels sailed annually from Boston and New 
York to hunt and trade along the West Coast of North 
America (probably an exaggeration), with little fear of 
Spanish intervention. Even when Spanish vessels were 
present, the American vessels were faster and better 
armed. Choris says that during Rurik's visit, Russians 
were hunting sea lions in San Francisco Bay itself, with 
the knowledge of Capt. Kotzebue. 

19. captain Kotzebue was, however, surprised to learn that 
several Russians were being held prisoner by the 
Spanish in Monterey, having either deserted from 
Russian vessels or been captured on shore. Four Russian 
prisoners were later released to the captain and taken 
on board Rurik. One of them, an older man, soon died 
from injuries sustained when a powder horn exploded. 
Some deserters from American vessels had also been 
captured by the Russians. 

20. The first Russian circumnavigation of the world was 
accomplished by the Krusenstern Expedition, 
1803-1806, on the vessel Nadezhda, likewise sponsored 
by Count Rumyantsev. Adam Johann von Krusenstern, 
the captain of the ship, was accompanied on this voyage 
by Nicolai Rezanov — with considerable animosity 
between the two over who was in charge of the expedi- 
tion. Rezanov left in Alaska to become captain of the 
vessel Juno for his historic 1806 visit to San Francisco. 
Krusenstern, a close confidant of Count Rumyantsev, 
later personally supervised the building of Rurik. 

21. Peter Schlemiehl's Remarkable Story or Peter Schlemihls 
wundersame Geschichie, sometimes translated as 
Wonderful History (Nurnberg: 1814). 

22. The most thorough account of the work of Chamisso 
and Eschscholtz as naturalists in San Francisco may be 
found in Richard C. Beidleman, California's Frontier 
Naturalists (Berkeley: University of California Press, 
2006), pp. 48-55. Professor Edward Mornin, author of 
Through Alien Eyes, has also published an article focusing 
on Chamisso's naturalist role during the Rurik's San 
Francisco visit, "Adelbert von Chamisso: A German 
Poet-Naturalist and His Visit to California," California 
History vol. LXXVIII, no. 1 (Spring 1999), pp. 2-13. For 
the original scientific descriptions of the botanical, min- 
eral, and other specimens collected in San Francisco by 
Chamisso and Eschscholtz, see Mahr, The Visit of the 
"Rurik" to San Francisco in 1816, pp. 125-185. In addi- 
tion to the California Poppy, Chamisso's descriptions 
include, by way of example, the California Blackberry, 
California Wild Rose, Yerba Buena herb, Western Dog 
Violet, Honeysuckle, Forget-me-not, Seaside Daisy, 
Goldenrod, California Sagebrush, California Hazel; two 
species of butterflies by Eschscholtz (the Monarch and 
the Common Checkerspot, a new species); and, of 
course, the California Grizzly Bear. Chamisso even 
named a new California plant species for Rurik's sponsor, 
Count Rumyantsev. 


23. Cameron Rogers, Trodden Glory, The Story of the 
California Poppy with a Description of Some Russians 
(Santa Barbara: Wallace Hebberd, 1949), pp. 2-3. 

24. Ibid, pp. 15-20. 

25. Thomas C. Blackburn, "A 'New' Choris Watercolor," 
Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology, vol. 
21:2 (1999), p. 154. 

26. Bancroft Library website, "California Cornerstones," 

27. Ibid. 

28. Luis Argiiello had a long and successful career under 
difficult circumstances. He served as Commandant of 
the San Francisco Presidio until 1830, well into the 
Mexican era. Born in San Francisco, he also served as 
the first native-born governor of California from 
1822-1825, while retaining his position as Presidio 
commandant. He is buried at Mission Dolores. 

29. The missing gun salutes were never mentioned by 
Captain Kotzebue in his official report; in fact the 
captain falsely reported that five gun salutes were 
exchanged without incident. Oscar Lewis, in his notes 
to the Book Club of California's book on Rurik's visit, 
Adelbert von Chamisso, A Sojourn at San Francisco Bay 
1816 (San Francisco: The Grabhorn Press, 1936), p. 16, 
states that there existed a difference in Russian and 
Spanish protocol regarding gun salutes. It has, however, 
also been stated that the captain provoked the incident 
as a way of testing the Spanish — a conclusion support- 
ed, according to Mornin, by the fact that a nearly 
identical incident had occurred during Rurik's April 
1916 visit to Chile. Mornin, Through Alien Eyes, p. 87. 

30. Translation by Mornin, Through Alien Eyes, p. 24. 

31. Randall Milliken, A Time of Little Choice, The 
Disintegration of Tribal Culture in the San Francisco Bay 
Area 1769-1810 (Menlo Park, CA: Ballena Press, 
1995), P . 1. 

32. According to Kotzebue, "los Indios" was the name given 
by the Spanish to "the savage (or native) tribes." Mahr, 
The Visit of the "Rurik," p. 58, unnumbered footnote. 
Apparently for that reason, the Russians used the same 

33. Mahr, The Visit of the "Rurik," pp. 87-89, 99. 
Surprisingly, most of the bands of Indians mentioned by 
Choris and Chamisso appear to have been components 
of what is now categorized as the Coast Miwok tribe, 
from the North and East Bay regions, rather than the 
Ohlone, or Costanoan, tribe, which inhabited the San 
Francisco peninsula and beyond. The Spanish soldiers 
also traveled up the Sacramento River to recruit 
Indians, but met with strong resistance. 

34. Mahr, The Visit of the "Rurik" to San Francisco in 1816, p. 
354, unnumbered footnote. 

35. Millikan, A Time of Little Choice, p.ll. 

36. Ibid, p.3. 

37. Few children born at the missions are said to have 
reached adulthood. Gastrointestinal diseases were com- 
mon. Epidemics included syphilis, tuberculosis, and 
occasionally measles, smallpox, and possibly influenza 
and typhoid fever. Millikan, A Time of Little Choice, pp. 

38. Mahr, The Visit of the "Rurik," P . 83. 

39. Msgr. Francis J. Weber, ed., Last of the Missions, 
A Documentary; History of San Francisco de Solano 
[Sonoma Mission] (Hong Kong: Libra Press, n.d. 
[1982]); Weber, The Penultimate Mission, A Documentary 
History of San Rafael, Arcangel ( Hong Kong: Libra 
Press, 1983). See also, by Weber, Mission Dolores, A 
Documentary History of San Francisco Mission (Hong 
Kong: Libra Press, 1979). 

40. Mahr, The Visit of the "Rurik," p. 83. 

41. Ibid, P . 81, fn. 9. 

42. James J. Rawls, Indians of California (Norman, 
Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press. 1984), p. 31. 

43. Mahr, The Visit of the "Rurik," p. 83. 

44- Newer translations of the Crespi Journals may be found 
in Lowell Bean, The Ohlone Past and Present, Native 
Americans of the San Francisco Bay Region (Menlo Park: 
Ballena Press, 1994), pp. 1-38. The Portola Expedition, 
which discovered San Francisco Bay in 1769, had mini- 
mal contact with the native population there. Fr. Crespi 
had been with Portola on that expedition. 

45. John Galvin, ed., The First Spanish Entry into San 
Francisco Bay 1775. (San Francisco: John Howell, 

46. Ibid, p. 59. 

47. Simply stated, the term noble savage represents the 
concept that uncivilized man exists in a state ot 
morality — sometimes erroneously attributed to 
Rousseau. Such beliets would, ot course, be in direct 
conflict with any tenets Chamisso may have retained 
from his Catholicism, not to mention conflicting with 
the very basis for founding the missions by the 

48. Translation by Mornin, Through Alien Eyes, p. 27. 


49. Mahr, The Voyage of the "Rurik," p. 24. According to 
Chamisso, Governor Sola subsequently received a 
Russian Order ot Merit, apparently rewarding him for 
his reasonable stance in dealing with the Russians. 
Chamisso proudly reported receiving a sea otter pelt 
from Kuskov, surely a symbolic gift, which he deposited 
in a Berlin museum. 

50. In 1817, the Russians entered into a treaty with the 
Kashia Porno, granting the Russians possession of Fort 
Ross — admittedly for little more than the California 
equivalent of twenty-four dollars worth of beads. The 
Russians kept Fort Ross until long after the supply of sea 
otters was depleted, finally selling it (the buildings, but 
not the land) in 1841 to John Sutter for $30,000. See 
Robert A. Thompson, The Russian Settlement in 
California, Known as Fort Ross, Founded 1812 ... 
Abandoned 1841- Why the Russians came and why they left 
(Santa Rosa: Sonoma Democrat Pub. Co., 1896, 
reprinted Oakland: Biobooks, 1951); Fort Ross, A 
Russian Outpost in California (San Francisco: California 
Redwood Association, n.d. [1916]), reprinted from 
Oakland Tribune; Fort Ross Citizens' Advisory 
Committee, Fort Ross, The Russian Settlement in 
California (n.p., by Committee, 1974). 

51. Mahr, The Visit of the "Rurik," p. 5 1. 

52. Ibid, p. 123. 

53. Mahr, The Voyage of the "Rurik," pp. 13-14. Since Rurik 
was not built to operate in heavy ice, however, 
Kotzebue also has his defenders. 

54- NPS Website, Presidio of San Francisco Adelbert von 

55. Voyage Pittoresque Autour du Monde, avec des Portraits de 
Sauvages a" Amerique, d'Asie, d'Afrique, et des iles du 
Grand Ocean: des pay sages, des vues maritimes, et plusiers 
objets d'histoire naturelle ( Paris: Didot, 1822, originally 
published in sections beginning in 1820). The first 
English translation from the French of Choris's San 
Francisco chapter was completed in 1913 by noted San 
Francisco author, artist, and all-around bohemian, 
Porter Garnett: Choris, San Francisco One Hundred 
Years Ago (San Francisco: A.M. Robertson, 1913). 
Choris's narrative of the entire Rurik voyage is 
reportedly located in Paris and has never been 
translated into English. In 1826, Choris published 
a second book containing his lithographs from the 
remainder of Rurik's voyage. 

56. In 2005, a complete copy of Choris's book was sold 
at auction by Sloan Galleries in San Francisco. The 
excellent auction description of the book by historian 
W. Michael Mathes (Professor of history, University of 
San Francisco; curator Sutro Library; author, among 
other credentials), including four illustrations of 
Choris's San Francisco lithographs, may be seen at 
www.dsloan. com/Auctions/ A 1 5/ A 1 5Web40.htm. 

57. For example, Choris's lithograph of the hills of the San 
Francisco Presidio was originally drawn without the 
Spaniard on horseback and the group of Indians he is 
directing. (This earlier depiction is the dust jacket illus- 
tration of Langellier's book, EI Presidio de San Francisco.) 
The entire scene was clearly repainted in Paris, with 
people added, during the making of the lithograph pub- 
lished in Choris's book. If Choris did not personally 
paint such new and more detailed lithographic images, 
it is known that he, at the very least, directed and 
approved them. See Mornin, Through Alien Eyes, p. 100, 
fn. 10. One book is unique in containing earlier ver- 
sions of two other published Choris lithographs (Indians 
Dancing at Mission Dolores and Three Indians in Tule 
Canoe), plus four additional illustrations and sketches 
by Choris, which, to this author's knowledge, have 

not been published elsewhere: John Galvin, ed., The 
First Spanish Entry into San Francisco Bay 1775 (San 
Francisco: John Howell, 1971). These plates are 
credited either to the Bancroft Library (most famously, 
the earlier version of Indians Dancing at the Mission) 
or to the editor's family library. 

58. Harry T Peters, California on Stone (New York: 
Doubleday, Doran & Co., 1935), pp. 97-98. An original 
Choris watercolor of three Native Americans is held on 
loan by the Oakland Museum of California, part of the 
Albert Schumate collection. A previously unknown, 
original Choris watercolor from San Francisco was also 
identified in the Estonian History Museum at Tallinn, 
Estonia, entitled "Indians from New Albion." See 
Blackburn, "A 'New' Choris Watercolor," Journal of 
California and Great Basin Anthropology, vol. 21, no. 2 
(1999), pp. 154-157. Choris's unexpected use of Drake's 
"New Albion" terminology is said to derive from the 
Russians' reluctance to recognize Spanish authority in 
the area. 

59. Mornin, Through Alien Eyes, p. 115. 


dashiell hammett's 
San Francisco 

IN THE 1920S 

by Monika Trobits 

201 1 marks ninety years since Dashiell 
Hammett first arrived in San Francisco 
and more than eighty years since the 
original publication of his best-known 
novel, The Maltese Falcon. Hammett 
lived in San Francisco throughout the 1920s and 
did the lion's share of his writing there. He incor- 
porated many of his San Francisco experiences 
into his stories. Two of his novels were set in the 
City, one in whole and one in part, as were more 
than two dozen of his short stories. Another 
novel referenced the City through its characters. 
Hammett included many San Francisco locales in 
those stories — its sites, its terrain, and its 
streets — hut would he and his characters still rec- 
ognize the San Francisco of the twenty-first 

The San Francisco of the 1920s was recon- 
structed on the dampened ashes and jagged 
remains of the 1906 earthquake and fire. 
Rebuilding had begun almost immediately alter 
that cataclysmic event and a new city arose, bit 
by bit, propelling San Francisco into the twenti- 
eth century. In the decades following 1906, much 
of the old city, the San Francisco of the post-Gold 
Rush era, gave way to the post-World War I, new 
modern verve of the 1920s and beyond. 

Samuel Dashiell Hammett wouldn't have read- 
ily recognized the San Francisco of old since his 
residency in the early 1920s coincided with the 
rising new city. But that post- 1906 city is now no 

longer new. Waves of additional development 
occurred throughout the twentieth century and 
continue into the twenty-first. The subsequent 
architectural activity may cause one to pause and 
wonder whether the San Francisco of Hammett's 
time has entirely disappeared. Or, is there much 
that still remains from the 1920s that he would 
recognize today — the buildings he lived in, the 
restaurants where he ate his meals, the places in 
which he worked, or the speakeasies, theaters, 
and other businesses he frequented? And then, 
there are also the many sites and characteristics of 
the city that he incorporated into his San 
Francisco-based short stories and novels. What, if 
any, changes have occurred with respect to them 
over the last nine decades? Consideration of all oi 
the above leads one to the question of whether 
Hammett and his characters would still be able to 
lind their way around current-day San Francisco. 
Hammett wasn't a San Francisco native. He 
was born to a tobacco-farming family in rural 
Maryland in 1894, and mainly grew up in 
Baltimore. 1 After a series of odd jobs, he answered 
a want ad placed by the Baltimore branch of the 
Tinkerton National Detective agency and was 
hired as an operative, or "op," in 1914- By signing 
on with Pinkerton, Hammett became a "private 
eye," a term that stems from the agency's logo of a 
large, all-seeing eye, suggesting ubiquitous vigi- 
lance.- The term private eye became synonymous 
with that of private detective, and distinguished 


Hammett's San Francisco of the 1 920s (looking west from the Ferry Building to Twin Peaks) . 
Courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library. 

the operatives from the public detectives, who 
were more commonly known as the local police. 3 
Hammett was initially paid about $21 per week 
by Pinkerton 4 to be one of its "eyes" and would 
often be on call 24/7. Through his affiliation with 
that organization, he eventually moved on to 
Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., and then 
incrementally made his way west, working for 
Pinkerton as both a strikebreaker and a detective. 
By the late teens, his monthly income had risen 
to $105. 5 He arrived in San Francisco by way of 
Washington State in 1921, and was by that point 
earning about $6 a day as an operative. 6 

In the fall of 1921, Hammett was one of the 
"Pinks" assigned to investigate the Fatty Arbuckle 
scandal, based on an incident that had occurred 
in adjoining twelfth-floor suites of the St. Francis 

Hotel (across from San Francisco's Union Square) 
during Labor Day weekend. Arbuckle, at the time 
a very popular silent screen comedian, was host- 
ing an open-house party to celebrate his new 
three-million-dollar contract with Paramount 
Pictures. Within a few days, he would find himself 
arrested for the rape and murder of one of the 
women who crashed the party. Pinkerton was 
hired by Arbuckle's defense team to sort out what 
had actually happened. Arbuckle himself likely 
left quite an impression on Hammett. He was a 
big man, about 300 pounds, and may have been 
one of the inspirations for the "fat men" that 
Hammett would later incorporate into several of 
his short stories and novels. 

However, as it turned out, Hammett would 
only briefly work for the local Pinkerton branch, 


The Flood Building at Market and Powell Streets in the 1920s. Pinkerton's offices were in suite 314- 
Courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library. 

whose offices were then located in the Flood 
Building on Market Street at the foot of Powell 
Street. His employment there was cut short in 
early 1922 when his tuberculosis, which initially 
surfaced in 1918 during service in World War I, 
reactivated. That forced him to resign from 
Pinkerton and look for another, less physically- 
demanding line of work to support himself, his 
wife, Josephine (Jose), and their baby daughter, 
Mary Jane. (A second daughter, Josephine 
Rebecca, would be born in 1926.) Hammett 
applied for veterans' benefits and was awarded a 
monthly benefit of $80 based on his 100 percent 
disabled status. 7 While recovering, he considered 

alternatives to his work as a Pinkerton operative. 
He set out to be a writer, an easier line of work 
to be sure on a physical level, but filled with the 
challenges of launching oneself in that endeavor 
and becoming financially successful. Hammett 
had the additional challenge of being hampered 
by his insufficient education. He had less than a 
year of high school studies, as he had dropped out 
in 1 908 at the age o( fourteen to help support his 
family. (Coincidentally, he briefly attended the 
same Baltimore high school that Edgar Allan Poe 
had attended decades earlier. s ) Now approaching 
thirty, going back to high school was impractical 
for Hammett and college was not an option at all. 


He tilled the gaps in his education hy spending 
countless afternoons at San Francisco's old Main 
Library at Larkin and McAllister Streets (recon- 
figured in 2003 to house the Asian Art Museum), 
reading profusely about a myriad of topics that 
would serve to round out his limited knowledge of 
the world. The diversity of subject matter that 
Hammett covered during these library reading 
sessions would later factor significantly in several 
of his short stories and novels. 

Nothing in Hammett's background suggested a 
future as a successful writer. There was no history 
of writing in his adolescence. He had been inade- 
quately educated, had no mentors or writing 
associates, and no authors served as role models in 
his life. He had, however, always been an avid 
reader and particularly enjoyed mysteries. 
Moreover, through his work for Pinkerton, 
Hammett had learned how to keenly observe peo- 
ple and record his insights. As an operative, he 

had written a seemingly endless stream of exten- 
sive reports about suspicious individuals and the 
cases they were involved with, meticulously not- 
ing all the details about their appearances and 
their mannerisms. 9 To further facilitate his 
prospective writing career, he learned touch-typ- 
ing through vocational training at the Munson 
School for Private Secretaries, then located at 
600 Sutter Street in San Francisco. 10 The train- 
ing was paid for by the Veterans' Bureau under 
the guise of a potential career in news reporting 
or advertising writing. The curriculum included 
stenography courses, which Hammett did not 
take, but which perhaps influenced him to fre- 
quently include the presence of stenographers in 
his stories. 11 In any event, Hammett apparently 
now felt fully armed to launch his new career 
from his kitchen table at 620 Eddy Street. He put 
to use his unique combination of intelligence and 
oral story-telling abilities, ongoing library-read- 


Dashiell Hammett's "college." The old main San Francisco Public Library on the east end of Civic Center as it appeared in J 927. 
Courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library. 


ing-room education, newly-acquired typing skills, 
and experience writing hundreds of Pinkerton 
case reports. It was a dubious beginning indeed in 
a field where so many, with so much more in the 
way of qualifications, had failed miserably. 

He began small, with short stories. The first, 
"The Barber and His Wife," was completed in the 
spring of 1922 and only vaguely referenced San 
Francisco through mentions of its hills, its fog, 
and a local boxing match. Though running barely 
a dozen pages, in this initial effort Hammett 
demonstrated that he could indeed write fiction 
and that he had the ability to create and develop 
his characters. But it would take more than that. 
He also had to learn the mechanics of getting his 
work published and actually make a living as a 
writer, and he set out to accomplish just that. 

Hammett's first short story was unlike his later 
works in content, but did include elements that 
would be common to many of his future stories, 
both short and long. Readers of "The Barber and 
His Wife" will note that the characters in this 
story emerged fully-blown, 12 that is, no back- 
ground information on them was offered. The 
story was essentially a day in the life of the 
individuals depicted. In addition, their socio-eco- 
nomic status was working class; there were no 
children present or referenced; the appearances of 
the characters were carefully detailed; and the 
story was set in San Francisco. In this initial short 
story, Hammett also introduced the concept o{ a 
"fat man" as one o{ the characters, an idea he 
would return to again and again with his most 
famous fat man yet to come: Casper Gutman in 
The Maltese Falcon. 1 '' 

The first order of business for Hammett was to 
locate a publisher for his story, but his submissions 
to various magazines generated only rejections. 
Hammett then wrote and submitted other stories, 
but they, too, were rejected. In mid- 1922, howev- 
er, a brief essay of just over one hundred 
words — an anecdote, really, called "The Parthian 
Shot" — was accepted by a periodical called The 
Smart Set. Co-edited by none other than H.L. 
Mencken, coincidentally a resident of Hammett's 
hometown, Baltimore, The Smart Set was an influ- 
ential literary magazine in its day and well known 

tor nurturing the careers of emerging writers. 14 
Hammett's piece had fortuitously landed in front 
of the eyes of Mencken himself. Not only was it 
published that October, but Hammett, to his 
delight, was promptly paid. At a penny a word, 
this came to $1.13. The fee was not a grand 
amount, to be sure; more important was the valu- 
able exposure Hammett received as a published 
writer in a prominent literary publication. Later 
that same year, Mencken published another of 
Hammett's stories, a nonfiction selection titled 
"The Great Lovers." 15 

As Hammett's writing progressed, it began to 
reflect what all novice writers are told: "Write 
about what you know." What Hammett knew was 
his work with the Pinkerton Agency. The accept- 
ance, finally, of his first fictional short story ("The 
Barber and His Wife") for publication in the 
December 1922 issue of Brief Stories, 16 a pulp fiction 


PRICE 25 Cents 





Cover of Smart Set Magazine, September 1911. 
Courtesy of Wikipedia. 


magazine, might have given Hammett 
the confidence to write his first quasi- 
detective story. The narrative for that 
story would feature a character named 
Hagedorn who, after pursuing a criminal 
halfway around the world, is faced 
with the temptations of corruption. 
Hammett called it "The Road Home." 
Perhaps still a hit uncomfortable with 
its subject matter, he submitted it under 
a pseudonym, Peter Collinson. 17 It was 
accepted by a still relatively new pulp 
fiction publication, The Black Mask, 
which had debuted in April of 1920 at 
the price of twenty cents an issue. 18 In 
time, Hammett would become one of 
that magazine's most important con- 
tributing writers. Once again, H.W. 
Mencken would play a significant role. 

The Smart Set, for all its other virtues, 
was a "slick," so characterized for the 
smooth, glossy paper upon which it was 
printed. However, Mencken and his 
partner, co-editor George Jean Nathan, 
found they were not making enough 
money with The Smart Set. They decid- 
ed to start up a series of pulp fiction 

magazines. Once they got each one up 

j m i j i ii DashiellHammett was one of the fathers of hardboiled writing in the 1920s. 

and running, they planned to then sell u . , . ^ , x , , , , , , , , , , 

r- «t> 1 » J-rr j stories in black Mask nave the lean, pared-down style that was to become 

■ i j ■ i 1 ulps differed from the tra d emar k f t h e tough, action-packed crime yarns that were to follow in the 

"slicks" in that they were printed on 
cheap, unfinished paper (made from 
raw, ground wood-pulp) and focused on 
what were then regarded as non-literary 
type stories such as mysteries, romances, westerns, 
and detective stories. The pulp they called The 
Black Mask was an alternative publication for the 
type of story that Hammett would eventually 
become known for, although he initially wasn't 
overjoyed that his work would be published there. 
He found the magazine to be crude in its presen- 
tation, its stories overwritten and often florid in 
style, misrepresentative of how Hammett believed 
a detective story should be written. 19 He preferred 
a continued association with the more prestigious 
and intellectually honest Smart Set, even though 
the pay rate was the same, a penny a word. He 

heyday of the magazine. Courtesy of Google images. 

was concerned that The Black Mask would be 
viewed as unsophisticated and unappealing to 
more educated readers. In the long run, however, 
this magazine proved to be the ideal forum for 
Hammett's detective stories. Hammett's goal was, 
after all, to get his work published and be paid for 
it. And Hammett himself would eventually play a 
significant role in shaping the magazine and solid- 
ifying its reputation. On its way to becoming the 
best of the pulp publications, The Black Mask 
appealed to a wide range of readers, including 
what would emerge as the most significant pulp 
readership: "the growing mass of literate working 


citizens." These readers were "predominantly 
male, predominantly urban and almost entirely 
working class." 20 Hammett's timing and position- 
ing were perfect. He was well on his way to 
becoming The Black Mask's most popular writer 
and accomplishing his goal of a financially suc- 
cessful writing career. 

What particularly distinguished Hammett's 
detective stories was how different they were from 
the traditional and popular detective stories the 
public had been reading for decades. Detective 
fiction had been born in the nineteenth century, 
in conjunction with the rise of organized law 
enforcement agencies which had sprung up in 
newly industrialized European cities such as 
London and Paris. Initially, however, these stories 
were actually memoirs. Among their authors was 
Allan Pinkerton, who, in 1850, founded the 
detective agency that Hammett would eventually 
work for. Edgar Allan Poe is generally acknowl- 
edged as having written the first fictional 
detective stories, and in them established particu- 
lar patterns that many subsequent detective 
fiction writers would follow. 21 Hammett had read 
many of these types of stories, but often found 
them silly. 22 The detectives created by Poe (C. 
Auguste Dupin), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 
(Sherlock Holmes), and Agatha Christie 
(Hercule Poirot), for example, tended to be gen- 
tlemen detectives in Hammett's eyes. They were 
very polished, upper class, erudite, famous, and 
European. They lived comfortably, dressed nicely, 
and ate well. They did very little grunt work and 
none did endless paperwork. Every case was pre- 
sented to readers as a puzzle that needed to be 
worked out. Cases would usually be rationally 
solved by a seemingly brilliant detective sitting 
comfortably in an armchair in front of a roaring 
fire. 2? As far as Hammett was concerned, there 
was too much thinking and talking, and not 
enough action. That's not what detective work 
was, according to his experience, and that would 
not be how he would choose to represent his 
detectives. Hammett's detectives would be 
American, and many of his stories would play out 
as "urban version(s) of the Westerns," featuring 
"street-wise cowboy(s)." 24 

It is important to remember that Hammett was 
not a writer trying to be a detective, but rather a 
detective trying to be a writer. That's what made 
his work so distinctive. 25 Unlike Poe, Doyle, and 
Christie, Hammett didn't need to make it up. He 
knew what it meant to be a private detective and 
was familiar with the questionable kinds of people 
one encountered from all socio-economic levels 
when pursuing that line of work. He also realized 
the benefit of being a private eye versus being a 
public detective, and incorporated that difference 
into his stories. A Hammett detective was gener- 
ally on the side of the law and often worked with 
public detectives such as the police. But a 
Hammett detective wasn't always strictly law- 
abiding. He frequently bent the rules when 
working his way through a case. That's how the 
job got done. 26 This was a reality that Hammett 
knew all too well. In addition, he had experi- 
enced both the dangerous and the humorous 
situations one would come across as an operative, 
the often unsavory nature of the work, the socie- 
tal corruption, the long hours that detective work 
frequently required, and the potential excitement 
attached to it — all of which had held Hammett's 
boredom at bay. He knew detective work inside 
and out, and that's what he decided he would 
begin writing about. He would put on the page 
the realism and grittiness of urban crime from an 
experienced detective's perspective — his own per- 
spective. Down the road, that's the type of story 
that would become known as hard-boiled fic- 
tion. 27 Hammett would turn it all into a serious 
literary endeavor. Through his characters and the 
changing social mores of the 1920s and 30s, it 
would form the basis for film noir. 28 

Hammett enjoyed a relatively decent start as 
fledging writer. In 1922, he had managed to get 
five of his stories published in magazines such as 
The Smart Set, The Black Mask, and Brief Stories. 
The following year proved to be even better as 
sixteen of Hammett's stories were published in 
various magazines. In addition to those noted 
above, the others included a literary magazine 
named The Nat 1 Pearsons 1 ^ and still another 
Mencken/Nathan pulp: Saucy Stories, a publica- 
tion that featured risque fiction. 10 


Black Mask get together January 1 1 , J 936. 

Back Row L-R: Raymond J . Moffatt, Raymond Chandler, Herbert Stinson, Dwight Babcock, Eric Taylor, Dashiell Hammett 

Front: Arthur Barnes, John K. Butler, W. T. Ballard, Horace McCoy, Norbert Davis. Courtesy of Google images. 

By 1923 things were going well for Hammett, 
but then came some unexpected news. He was 
notified by the Veterans' Bureau that it had deter- 
mined that Hammett's health had sufficiently 
improved and he was no longer eligible for 
monthly disability benefits. That was, without a 
doubt, an unwelcomed turn of events. Hammett's 
protest and appeal for the continuation of the $80 
monthly benefit payments were ignored. Hammett 
and his family very much depended upon that 
income, and even with triple the number of his 
stories published in 1923, as compared with 1922, 
the collective revenue they would generate was 
not enough to replace the benefit checks. Clearly, 

Hammett had to write more stories, produce them 
at a faster rate, and increase their appeal to the 
reading public, while building anticipation for 
future stories. Doing so might even increase the 
payment-per-word rate for his stories from one 
penny to perhaps three, five, or even ten cents a 
word. Hammett decided that the best way to 
accomplish this task would be to emulate the suc- 
cessful strategy of Poe, Doyle, and Christie: create 
a detective character, establish a persona for that 
character, and write a series of stories with that 
character playing a significant and consistent 
role. However, Hammett's first serial detective 
would not only differ from the characters of 


Dupin, Holmes, and Poirot in style and method, 
but in one other way as well: Hammett's detective 
would not have a name. 

Hammett referred to his newly created detec- 
tive character as the Continental Op. He 
introduced the character during the last quarter of 
1923 in a short story called "Arson Plus," 31 again 
using the Collinson pen name. The tale was 
mainly set in Sacramento, but cast a lengthy 
shadow that extended west, all the way to San 
Francisco. Subsequent Op stories noted that he 
worked for the Continental Detective Agency, 
which appeared to have its offices in the Flood 
Building at 870 Market Street (where, coinciden- 
tally, the offices for the Pinkerton Detective 
Agency were also located). 32 Careful reading of 
the Op stories revealed that the mystery detective 
was not a San Francisco native, but rather a resi- 
dent of approximately five years who had 
transferred to this city from Chicago. The Op's 
boss, the head of the local Continental Agency 
office, would also be nameless. In the stories he 
was referred to as "the Old Man." 

The Continental Op was partially modeled on 
a real Op whom Hammett had known from his 
early days with Pinkerton, a man by the name of 
James Wright, assistant superintendent of the 
Baltimore Pinkerton office, then located in that 
city's Continental Building. 33 Jimmy Wright had 
actually trained Hammett. Wright's mentorship 
stressed the basic moral code of operatives: not 
becoming emotionally involved with clients; 
maintaining integrity and objectivity; and 
remaining anonymous. 54 In his stories, Hammett 
described the Op as all business. He was on the 
short side and rotund (a fat man). He was an 
undistinguished, unglamorous working-class indi- 
vidual in his late thirties or early forties who 
lacked a personal life. He was solely dedicated to 
being an Op. 55 The Continental Op's physical 
description was one thing; his persona was actual- 
ly that of Hammett himself — clever and 
tenacious. Many of the Op stories were based on 
actual cases that Hammett had worked on in San 
Francisco and in other parts o( the country. 

On October 1, 1923, The Black Mask published 
"Arson Plus," followed two weeks later by two 

Black Mask was a pulp magazine launched in 1920 by 

journalist H. L. Mencken and drama critic George ]ean 

Nathai\ as one of a number of money -making publishing 

ventures to support the prestigious literary magazine 

"The Smart Set." Courtesy of Google images. 

more San Francisco-based Op stories, "Slippery 
Fingers" and "Crooked Souls" (also known as 
"The Gatewood Caper"). 56 The magazine's read- 
ership was receptive to these first three Op 
stories, and Hammett decided to drop the 
Collinson pseudonym and use his own first name 
ot Samuel for future story submissions. He then 
submitted an Op story called "Bodies Piled Up" 
(also known as "House Dick"), which the maga- 
zine published in late 1923 as having been 
written by Dashiell Hammett. This latest story 
was also set in San Francisco, and was also well 
received. That encouraged additional Op stories. 
The new year would begin with another Op/San 
Francisco story, "The Tenth Clew," published in 


the January 1, 1924 edition of The Black Mask. 
With the successful introduction of the 
Continental Op, a new page had heen turned in 
the genre of detective fiction — and Dashiell 
Hammett had turned it. 

By the mid- 1920s, Hammett's stories were sell- 
ing well, but the income they generated was still 
inadequate for him and his family. He clearly 
needed to make more money but was hesitant to 
return to Pinkerton. Negotiations for a higher 
rate per word for his stories were unsuccessful. In 
1926, Hammett placed a 
"job wanted" ad in the San 
Francisco Chronicle and 
managed to attract work as 
a writer, but a different sort 
of writer: an advertising 
copy writer. Using the train- 
ing he had received at the 
Munson School, he worked 
briefly for a local shoe seller 
(and was paid with a pair 
of shoes 37 ) and then for 
Albert S. Samuels Jewelers, 
whose Market Street shop 
was known as the home of 
lucky wedding rings. Albert 
Samuels owned the oldest 
established jewelry business 
in San Francisco and by the 
mid-1920s had four loca- 
tions in the city. Samuels 
was the first jeweler in the 
city to use newspaper ads to 
attract his customers and 
hired Hammett to create 
them. It would be a full- 
time job, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., 
Monday through Saturday. 38 
Hammett wrote the adver- 
tising copy and also drew 
the jewelry images that 
went with it. In addition, he 
ghost-wrote the weekly 
300-word essay ads that 
appeared in the San 
Francisco Examiner, which 

were dramatic vignettes designed to attract and 
inspire potential customers to purchase jewelry. 
Albert Samuels was very pleased with the quality 
of Hammett's work, especially since it increased 
jewelry sales. 

In the 1920s, one of the Samuels Jewelers shops 
was located on the ground level of the now- 
demolished Lincoln Building, formerly at Market 
and Fifth Streets (currently the site for the 
Westfield/San Francisco Centre, featuring 
Nordstrom as its anchor tenant and completed in 

Samuels Jewelers' location at 895 Market Street in the old Lincoln Building 

( Market at Fifth Street) . A grand street clock was placed in front of the shop in 1915. 

In 1 943 , the shop and the clock moved across the street to 856 Market. 

Courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library. 


1988). In 1915, a grand sidewalk clock had been 
positioned near its front entrance at 895 Market, 
advertising the presence of Samuels Jewelers. 39 
Hammett's new employer was nearly directly 
across the street from his former employer, the 
Pinkerton Detective Agency. 

Hammett developed a good rapport with 
Albert Samuels and his co-workers, and he 
enjoyed his work. He especially appreciated his 
monthly salary of $350, 40 which was more than 
his veterans' disability check and his sales of fic- 
tion in an average month, put together. His 
employment at the jewelry shop was short-lived, 
however, lasting only about five months. 
Hammett's tuberculosis-related health issues 
reactivated once again, exacerbated by San 
Francisco's fog and his own steadily increasing 
drinking. A higher monthly income meant more 
money to pay the bills and to support his family, 
but it also meant more money for alcohol. A seri- 
ous recurrence of his tuberculosis, which included 
Hammett's passing out on site at Samuels and 
coughing up blood, caused him to initially lessen 
his hours to part-time status. He eventually 
resigned from his position altogether. To avoid 
potentially infecting his family, Hammett had 
already moved to a tiny apartment on Monroe 
Street, which was closer to the Market Street jew- 
elry shop and also shortened his daily commute. 41 
Albert Samuels, to his credit, remained support- 
ive of Hammett and his writing endeavors and 
even wrote a letter on his behalf to the Veterans' 
Bureau, acknowledging Hammett's illness. Doing 
so helped to secure a 100 percent disability status 
for Hammett and the reinstatement of his bene- 
fits, which now paid $100 monthly. 42 He and his 
family would live on those benefits while he 
eventually went back to writing his Op stories. 
Hammett would later publicly acknowledge 
Samuels's kindness by dedicating his second 
novel, The Dain Curse, to Albert S. Samuels. 4 ^ 
Doing so was an appropriate gesture of apprecia- 
tion on Hammett's part, since the novel, which 
was partially set in San Francisco and partially in 
San Mateo County (just south of the city), began 
with the issue of stolen diamonds. He also had 
some fun when he named several of the characters 

The Samuels Jewelers clock still stands in front of 

856 Market Street and is a San Francisco city landmark. 

The jewelry shop, however, closed m 1990. 

This image from 1958 looks west on Market when 

Wookcorth still occupied the street level of the Flood Building. 

Courtesy of the San Francisco History Center. 

San Francisco Public Library. 

in the novel after his former co-workers. 44 

Years later, Hammett admitted that he had also 
modeled a particular character in his third novel, 


The Maltese Falcon, on a former female co-worker 
at Samuels Jewelers. That co-worker, Peggy 
O'Toole, was a San Franciscan and a graduate of 
Mission High School. She was also an advertising 
artist and Hammett's assistant at the jewelry 
shop. 45 In time, the two developed a rather close 
working and personal relationship. Miss O'Toole 
would later receive a dedicated and signed copy of 
the novel as a gift from Hammett — only to have 
it disappear from her bookshelf. 

Jewelry would also play a role in at least two 
other Hammett tales, such as "The Whosis Kid," 
a story in which three partners in a jewel heist 
would cross, double-cross, and then triple-cross 
each other. A few years later, The Maltese Falcon 
would feature a jewel-encrusted statue in the form 
of a falcon, hotly pursued by several characters 
who engaged in various degrees of betrayal against 
each other in order to secure it. 

As his health gradually improved, Hammett 
began writing again. He was enticed back to Black 
Mask by its new editor, Joseph T Shaw. (In 1927, 
Shaw dropped the word "The" from the maga- 
zine's title.) Shaw not only promised higher 
per-word rates (of up to six cents), but also an 
opportunity to develop novel-length works. 46 
Altogether, during the 1920s and early 30s, 
Hammett would write more than sixty short sto- 
ries, with more than two dozen set in San 
Francisco, and many were published in Black 
Mask. He would also write five novels. 

Despite its relatively new post- 1906 look, San 
Francisco was still very conducive as a venue for 
the hard-boiled stories that Hammett wrote dur- 
ing the 1920s. Vice ran rampant in the city, 
which was in large part run by crooks and mob- 
sters. 47 Local politicians from City Hall were 
corrupt, and in many respects the old Barbary 
Coast was alive and well in the gritty San 
Francisco of the 1920s. 48 Hammett unexpectedly 
found himself in the perfect urban environment 
for his stories, which also included pertinent 
atmospheric qualities such as the swirling waves 
of fog, the often turbulent, icy waters of the bay, 
the moaning of the foghorns, the blasts of the 
siren out on Alcatraz Island, and the exotic 
nature of Chinatown with its narrow streets. 

Other relevant elements included the City's 
unique architecture and terrain, the clanging of 
the cable car bells, the ubiquitous streetcar lines, 
the transbay ferries, the watery inlets that were so 
handy for smugglers, the sometimes questionable 
activities on the docks, the illicit speakeasies in 
North Beach, the rickety stairways clinging to the 
sides of the city's many hills, and the countless 
narrow alleyways all around town. Most were dis- 
tinctive San Francisco characteristics and 
Hammett would use them very effectively to illus- 
trate his tales through the first-person voice of the 
Continental Op and, later, Sam Spade. 

The San Francisco of the 1920s, Hammett's 
San Francisco, continued its recovery from the 
aftermath of the earthquake and fire of 1906. The 
section of the City where Hammett resided 
(Civic Center/Tenderloin) as well as those neigh- 
borhoods in which he set several of his stories 
(Union Square, Chinatown, Financial District) 
had for the most part been devastated in 1906. 
Residential and commercial buildings that he 
used for his tales of the city were generally post- 
1906 architecture; several were actually 
constructed during the years that Hammett lived, 
worked, and wrote in the city. Getting around the 
City was relatively easy at the time. Neither he 
nor his characters needed to drive cars and few 
did so, as streetcar and cable car lines crisscrossed 
the city in the 1920s and taxis were readily avail- 
able. 49 Hammett incorporated ferries into his 
stories for travel across the San Francisco Bay, as 
neither the Oakland Bay nor Golden Gate 
Bridges had yet been constructed. 

The Continental Op would often find himself 
at San Francisco's old Hall of Justice, then located 
on Kearney Street across from Portsmouth 
Square, where the Chinatown Hilton Hotel (a 
former Holiday Inn) is today. Hammett knew the 
old building well, since all three of the Fatty 
Arbuckle trials had been held there. (The build- 
ing was a replacement for the original, which had 
been destroyed in 1906.) In 1923 he introduced 
the old Hall to readers in his second Op story, 
"Slippery Fingers." He would reference it many 
times and set scenes there for several of his short 
stories, including "The Tenth Clew," "Flypaper," 


The Hall of justice on Kearny Street (across from Portsmouth Square) , ii'hich replaced the original Hall of Justice that 

had been destroyed in J 906, as it looked in the 1920s. This building was replaced by a hotel m the 1960s. 

Courtesy of the Sari Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library. 

and "The Golden Horseshoe." The old Hall of 
Justice would also appear in The Maltese Falcon. 
Sooner or later, many of Hammett's characters 
would find themselves at the old Hall, on one side 
of the bars or the other. And many would 
encounter a recurring character there, that of 
Detective Sergeant O'Gar, who was in charge of 
the Homicide Detail. The Continental Op worked 
with O'Gar on a number of cases. 

It was appropriate for Hammett to feature the 
old Hall of Justice in his stories because it was an 
important site in its day, especially with respect to 
criminal activity, and was frequented by private 
and public detectives alike. He could not have 

known that the old Hall would be demolished in 
the mid-1960s, when its operations were relocated 
to its current South-of-Market location at Seventh 
and Brannan Streets. 

Heading south from the site of the old Hall of 
Justice on Kearny Street, toward the Financial 
District, brings one to the location of a Hammett 
story written in 1924, in which all of the action 
took place within sixty minutes. The story 
revolved around a stolen car occupied by a team of 
international counterfeiters, who had just killed a 
local printer. The tale has a swift and just resolu- 
tion. Hammett called the story "One Hour," and 
its setting was the area surrounded by Kearny, Clay, 


Montgomery, and California Streets. Currently, 
the area is a mixture of old and new office build- 
ings, including the adjacent Embarcadero Center, 
built on land that had been part of the City's old 
produce market in Hammett's day. 

Market Street was crowded with streetcars in 
the 1920s and they all led to the Ferry Building, 
which remains prominently positioned at the 
street's east end. Since none of the bridges cur- 
rently traversing the San Francisco Bay existed in 
Hammett's day, several of his characters frequent- 
ed the Ferry Building and used the ferries to get to 
and from San Francisco. The Ferry Building, 
opened in 1898, played an important role as part 
of the city's transportation network. It would for 
several decades be the connecting link between 

the streetcars and taxis in the city, which brought 
passengers to its front door, and the long-distance 
rail transport terminals on the other side of the 
bay. (The lack of direct transcontinental rail serv- 
ice to the city resulted in San Francisco having a 
grand ferry building but not a grand railway sta- 
tion, as most other major cities have.) In "The 
Tenth Clew," readers felt the chill of falling short 
of reaching the Ferry Building. In a particularly 
descriptive section of that story, Hammett related 
how the Op found himself swimming in the cold, 
choppy waters of the bay itself, trying to keep 
from drowning. This unexpected turn of events 
occurred after he had been pushed off the west- 
bound ferry, having gotten a little too close for 
comfort to a particular suspect. 

The second of two Ferry Buildings, located at the east end of Market Street, as Hammett and his characters would have 
known it in the 1920s. Courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library. 


While Hammett successfully incorporated San 
Francisco's urban landscape into his stories, he 
was careful not to get too descriptive, rendering 
his stories much more timeless than those of 
other writers of his era and genre. 50 At the same 
time, his many references were real for the most 
part. Residents and visitors will recognize the 
names of the city's streets, neighborhoods, build- 
ings, restaurants, and theaters in his stories. 

Hammett's characters travelled many of the 
same streets of San Francisco: McAllister Street 
in "The Tenth Clew" and "The Whosis Kid"; The 
Great Highway in "The Main Death," and "Dead 
Yellow Women"; Pine Street in "Zigzags of 
Treachery" and "Death on Pine Street"; and 
California Street in "Arson Plus" and The Maltese 
Falcon. In "The Golden Horseshoe," the Op visit- 
ed the residence of a character at Jackson near 
Gough, while "Creeping Siamese" brought the 
detective out to 1856 Broadway (probably 1812 
from the description). "The Gatewood Caper" 
took the Op to a wealthy section of Clay Street, 
while in "The House in Turk Street," the Op 
landed in an unidentified but clearly dubious por- 
tion of that street. The Continental Op's 
investigative work in "The Big Knockover" had 
him venture out to Holly Circle, located near 
Cortland and Mission Streets. 

Then, of course, there's Burritt Street, which 
really isn't much more than a dead-end alley that 
intersects with Bush Street just above the 
Stockton Street tunnel. This is probably the best 
known of all the streets Hammett mentioned in 
his stories, and for good reason. An official- look- 
ing plaque, installed at the entrance to Burritt in 
1974, notes that: 

On approximately this spot 
Miles Archer 
Partner of Sam Spade 
was done in by 
Brigid O'Shaughnessy. 

The reference is to Hammett's novel The Maltese 
Falcon and to the shooting of Miles Archer, a 
detective whose body was found lying about fifteen 
feet down the hill (now occupied by the north 
wing of the McAlpin apartment building, which 

fronts on Stockton Street). The directness of the 
Burritt Street plaque suggests to passersby that the 
parties mentioned are real people, while readers 
of the novel know otherwise. It can be a bit of a 
challenge to determine just what the plot of 
Hammett's story actually is, which, paraphrasing 
Sam Spade, appears to be a dizzy affair. It seems 
that the murder victim was a fictional character 
who was the partner of another, rather cynical, 
character and who was shot by the femme fatale in 
the story, who would then throw suspicion onto 
yet another character, who is neither directly seen 
nor heard from in the novel. The plot events are 
all connected to the aggressive pursuit of the 
aforementioned bejeweled Maltese Falcon and 
the pre-dawn murder of Mr. Archer. The entire 
story has been determined to take place in less 
than a week: December 5-10, 1928. This was in 
part established by the mention of a play that a 
character in the novel, Joel Cairo, attended at the 
Geary Theatre. 51 More than eighty years later, 
The Maltese Falcon is still regarded by many as the 
best detective story set in San Francisco because 
in it, Hammett successfully combined his vivid 
writing style, a cast of dubious characters and his 
own detective skills with his 1920's life experi- 
ence in the City. He also gave his own first name 
to the Spade character. 

One wonders what Hammett would have 
thought if he had seen the above-noted plaque on 
Burritt Street, installed forty-four years following 
the publication of his now-famous novel. He 
probably passed this site frequently during his 
commute down to Samuels Jewelers on Market 
Street from his residence on nearby Monroe 
Street, which was renamed Dashiell Hammett 
Street in 1988. 52 

Various San Francisco neighborhoods also 
played roles in Hammett's stories: Chinatown and 
the Old Latin Quarter in "Dead Yellow Women" 
and "House Dick"; Russian Hill in "The Tenth 
Clew" and "The Girl with the Silver Eyes"; 
Telegraph Hill, again in "Dead Yellow Women"; 
Nob Hill in "A Man Called Spade"; and the area 
around Union Square in "A Man Named Thin." 
"The Whosis Kid" included car chases in the 
Haight Ashbury and North Beach neighborhoods 


and, occasionally, Hammett's charac- 
ters would venture out to the city's 
outside lands: Westwood Park in 
"The Main Death" and Sea Cliff in 
"The Scorched Face." They also 
went to Golden Gate Park (a very 
convenient place to dump bodies) in 
"Zigzags of Treachery" and "The 
Tenth Clew"; down to the old 
Southern Pacific and Santa Fe rail 
yards in "Fly Paper" (after a chase 
along The Embarcadero, heading 
towards China Basin); and over to 
the Townsend Street train station 
and the post office at Seventh and 
Mission in "The Golden Horseshoe." 
The Continental Op would even 
climb the Filbert Steps on the east- 
ern slope of Telegraph Hill in "The 
Scorched Face" so that he could give 
an "egg yolk-yellow" house the once- 
over. While new housing has been 
added to Telegraph Hill since 
Hammett's day, much of the work- 
ing-class style architecture on the 
Hill (cottages and small houses, not 
grand Victorians) remains as it was 
in the 1920s. The Continental Op 
would have little difficulty locating 
the egg yolk-yellow house today, 
even though it's now probably a dif- 
ferent color. 

The silent film and vaudeville 
house known as the Orpheum 
Theatre would briefly be referenced 
in "Dead Yellow Women" and again 
in "A Man Named Thin." (This is 
not the current Orpheum at Market 
and Hyde, but rather the original 
theatre bearing that name, located at 147 
O'Farrell and replaced by the Ellis-O'Farrell park- 
ing garage in the late thirties.) 53 The Geary 
Theatre (built in 1910 as the Columbia Theatre 
and now the home of the American Conservatory 
Theatre) was where Sam Spade deliberately ran 
into Joel Cairo in The Maltese Falcon. 

Several of Hammett's stories dealt with large 

Looking east toward Market Street: 147 O'Farrell was the site of the 

Orpheum Theatre (right) , featuring vaudeville, that Hammett mentioned in 

two of his short stories. In 1929 the Orpheum name was given to the Pontages 

(Market Street at Hyde) , and this theater was renamed the Columbia. 

It was torn down in 1937; the Ellis-O'Farrell garage now occupies this site. 

Courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library. 

sums of disappearing (or mysteriously appearing) 
cash, and he created two fictitious Montgomery 
Street banks. Seaman's National Bank was refer- 
enced many times, beginning with the first 
Continental Op story, "Arson Plus." Golden Gate 
Trust was also frequently mentioned in stories 
such as "The Girl with the Silver Eyes." Hammett 
positioned these two banks in San Francisco's 


Financial District, on Montgomery Street 
between Pine and Bush, directly across the street 
from each other. Both played significant roles in 
two of Hammett's 1927 stories that were linked: 
"The Big Knockover" and "$106,000 Blood 
Money." In these sequential stories, about 150 
crooks from all over the country descended upon 
San Francisco and the two banks when they 
opened for business on a certain day, overwhelm- 
ing their staffs and looting them both within 
twenty minutes. The criminals ended up being 
double-crossed and seeking revenge, and they 
wreaked havoc on San Francisco. These two sto- 
ries were viewed by some readers and critics as 
Hammett's commentary on American capitalism. 
The Continental Op and his associates, along 
with the local police, were assigned to sort out the 
particulars of this bank caper and its aftermath. 

Prohibition was already in effect when 
Hammett arrived in San Francisco and would not 
end until alter his departure. A substantial 
drinker, he became very familiar with the 
speakeasies that sprung up in the city and incor- 
porated several into his stories: Larrouy's on 
Broadway in North Beach was featured in "The 
Big Knockover," among other stories; Loop 
Pigatti's Place in the Latin Quarter, often 
described as a dive down on Pacific Avenue, was a 
site noted in "Dead Yellow Women," "House 
Dick/Bodies Piled Up" and other stories; and the 
liquor also flowed freely at Wop Healy's place, 
The Circle. 

Apartment buildings around the city were also 
featured in his stories. A good example is 580 
McAllister at Franklin Street, featured in the 
1925 tale "The Whosis Kid" and home of the fic- 
tional female jewel thief, Ines Aimed. Ines lived 
up on the third level with her flurry dog Frana, 
which was dyed purple, on the back end of the 
building. Redwood Alley runs behind the build- 
ing; in Hammett's day it ran straight through to 
Van Ness Avenue (though in the story, he 
referred to it as Redwood Street). That changed 
in 1985, when the L-shaped California State 
Building was erected on Van Ness, covering the 
entire stretch from McAllister Street to Golden 
Gate Avenue, continuing west around the corner 

to Franklin Street. In Hammett's story, the 
Whosis Kid was keeping his eye on Ines since he 
suspected she was double-crossing him. The Kid 
was very familiar with the alley Hammett called 
Redwood Street, as he lived in the three-story 
rooming house that once occupied the site where 
the north end of the State Building is now. In 
other words, the back side of the Kid's rooming 
house and the back side of 580 McAllister faced 
each other across Redwood and both had rear 

Hammett mentioned many other apartment 
buildings as well: the Amsterdam, the Coronet, the 
Futurity, the Garford, the Glenton, the Glenway, 
and the San Martin, to name a few. It appears, 
however, that he made up these building names 
since they cannot be matched to lists of apartment 
buildings that existed in San Francisco during the 
1920s. The Coronet Apartments (Brigid 
O'Shaughnessy's residence in The Maltese Falcon), 
could be the Cathedral Apartments at 1201 
California Street (at Jones), but it's important to 
note that the latter building was not completed 
until 1930, after the novel was completed. Also, in 
chapter six of the novel, Sam Spade takes a west- 
bound streetcar on Sutter (from Hyde Street) and 
gets off "within a half dozen blocks of the Coronet" 
and then walks up to it. This passage suggests that 
the Coronet Apartments were actually located 
near or past Van Ness Avenue, the Coronet is most 
likely an entirely fictitious building. (Hammett 
does mention the Cathedral Apartments in an 
early draft of The Thin Man, so he was indeed 
aware of that building.) 

Floyd Thursby, the off-stage character who 
moved the action in The Maltese Falcon but who 
had no speaking role, apparently lived in a resi- 
dential hotel on Geary Street at the intersection 
of Leavenworth. It's difficult, even when carefully 
reading the novel, to pinpoint exactly which 
building qualifies as Thursby's likely residence. 
But, since little has changed at that intersection 
since the 1920s, it could be any one of the apart- 
ment buildings still there today. 

Hammett rarely used the actual name of any 
San Francisco hotel. It's not impossible to figure 
out which hotels he was referring to in his stories, 


however, though it can be a hit of a puzzle. The 
St. Mark Hotel in The Maltese Falcon and "A 
Man Called Spade" is most likely the St. Francis 
Hotel (with a reference to the Mark Hopkins, 
which had just opened on Nob Hill in 1925). The 
Sir Francis Drake on Powell Street (also opened 
in 1925), was most likely the model for the 
Alexandria Hotel, which included among its fic- 
tional guests Caspar Gutman and his daughter, 
Rhea (in the novel, he had one). Another 
Maltese Falcon character, Joel Cairo, stayed at 
the Hotel Belvedere, which was probably a pseu- 
donym for the Hotel Bellevue on Geary at Taylor 
and just one block west of the Geary Theatre on 
Geary near Mason Street. 

Many other hotels were listed in the 
Continental Op short stories: The Marquis Hotel 
appeared in at least three: "The Girl with the 
Silver Eyes," "The Whosis Kid," and "Slippery 
Fingers." There was an actual Marquise Hotel at 
917 Kearny. Likewise, there was and still is a real 
Mars Hotel at 192 Fourth Street near Howard 
and could be the same site mentioned in "The 
Main Death." The Hotel Montgomery was men- 
tioned in several stories ("Zigzags of Treachery," 
"Creeping Siamese," "Bodies Piled Up" aka 
"House Dick," and a few others), but there's no 
evidence that it ever actually existed. What's 
more likely is that the Montgomery Hotel was a 
pseudonym for the Palace Hotel, located on New 
Montgomery Street at Market. 

Hammett was much more straightforward 
regarding restaurants. John's Grill on Ellis Street 
is most often associated with him and his novel 
The Maltese Falcon. John's has been around since 
1908 and Hammett himself enjoyed many meals 
there; apparently Sam Spade did so, as well 
(though it's unlikely that any portion of the novel 
was written there, despite what the plaque near 
the front entrance indicates). John's Grill houses 
a small museum to Hammett and Spade up on its 
second floor and was named a literary landmark 
in 1997. It continues to offer the classic Spade 
meal of chops, a baked potato, and sliced toma- 
toes. Today diners can enjoy a "Bloody Brigid" 
with that entree and take home the glass with an 
image of a black bird on it as a souvenir. 

Dashiell Hammett, American writer and San Francisco resident 

during the 1920s. Courtesy of the San Francisco History 

Center, San Francisco Public Library. 

Hammett also mentioned other restaurants in 
his stories, such as Julius Castle, which opened in 
1922 at the north end of Montgomery Street on 
Telegraph Hill. This was where Spade took his 
secretary, Effie Perine, for dinner toward the end 
of "A Man Called Spade" after a long day spent 
investigating the Bliss case on Nob Hill. Sam 
Spade sorted out the details of the murder of Max 
Bliss in the fictional Amsterdam Apartments as 
he and Effie sipped their coffee near a picture 
window featuring a view of ferryboats plying the 
waters of the San Francisco Bay. In The Maltese 
Falcon, Spade took himself to lunch at the Palace 
Hotel, although Hammett doesn't designate 
exactly where in the Palace Spade enjoyed his 

The Maltese Falcon also states that Spade ate 
dinner at the old Herbert's Grill at 151 Powell 
Street, which was on the ground level of the 
Herbert Hotel, just down the street from Union 
Square. Hammett most likely ate there, as well, 


The Pickwick Terminal Hotel on Fifth Street at Mission, as it looked in 1929, when Hammett was writing The Maltese Falcon. 

Sam Spade temporarily stashed the falcon in the Pickwick Stage Terminal's parcel room located in the rear of the hotel on the 

Jessie Street side. Courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library. 

though the restaurant was actually known as 
Herbert's Bachelor Grill in his day. The Grill and 
the Herbert Hotel were operated by the Herbert 
Brothers, and in the 1920s both catered to men 
only. It wasn't until 1933 that the Grill welcomed 
female diners (over the initial protests of some of 
the older male clientele, who managed to get over 
it). 54 The Herbert Hotel is still there at 161 
Powell Street and the Grill, at 151, was most 
recently called Herbert's Mexican Grill (the site 
is no longer a dining establishment). 

Other restaurants in the Union Square area 
that Hammett mentioned in his stories included 
the St. Germaine Cafe, a French-Italian restau- 
rant which was at 60-64 Ellis Street (across from 

John's Grill); Tait's (one of many and also known 
as Tait-Zinkand) at 168 O'Farrell, formerly across 
the street from the original Orpheum Theater; 
and Marquard's, a French restaurant at Geary and 
Mason Streets (now Max's on the Square). 55 

The Continental Op would enjoy a quick din- 
ner at Blanco's Restaurant in The Dain Curse. 
Blanco's was located at 857 O'FarrelP 6 in the 
building that now houses The Great American 
Music Hall. There's still a reference to Blanco's 
painted in large white letters near the roofline o{ 
the rear ot the building (viewable from Olive 
Street, an alley between Polk and Larkin Streets). 

Another restaurant that has also come and 
gone, the old States Hot Brau, was located tor 


many years in the basement of the former Pacific 
Building at 821 Market (at Fourth Street). 57 This 
was where Sam Spade met Detective Sergeant 
Tom Polhaus in The Maltese Falcon for a lunch of 
pickled pigs feet to discuss developments in the 
case they were mutually working on. While the 
restaurant is long gone, the green-tile and creme, 
terra-cotta, twelve-story building is still there and 
easily identified by its corner vertical sign, noting 
the building as the site of the Palomar Hotel 
(upper levels) along with its retail tenant, Old 
Navy (first four levels). A double-faced clock 
attached to the corner of the building reminds 
passersby that it's "Time to Shop." 

Hammett may have been reluctant to use the 
actual names of banks, apartment buildings, and 
hotels because in his stories, crimes occurred 
there. Most likely, their owners and managers 
would not appreciate such an association. 
Restaurants, theatres, and other public places 
could be named because they were not the venues 
for crimes in Hammett's tales. 

The Flood Building at 870 Market Street has 
been on that site since 1904 and features a small 
exhibit in its lobby, which includes a replica of 
the black bird of The Maltese Falcon (alas, without 
the jewels). The nearby plaque is misleading since 
Hammett did not write the novel until many 
years after he stopped working for Pinkerton, 
which had its offices in suite 314 during the 
1920s. A few blocks away on Mission Street (at 
Mint Alley) and just west of the Old Mint build- 
ing is another Spade-related site, the Remedial 
Loan Association (Provident Loans). Sam Spade 
referred Brigid O'Shaughnessy to the Remedial as 
a good place in which to hock her jewels to raise 
some necessary cash after taking the monies she 

Across from the Old Mint on Fifth Street is the 
Pickwick Hotel, which was opened in 1925 and 
indirectly played a role in The Maltese Falcon. 
Sam Spade would stash the brown paper-wrapped 
bundle containing the infamous black bird in the 
parcel room of the former Pickwick Stage 
Terminal (actually a bus depot by then and across 
the back alley from the hotel near Jessie Street) 
until he could sort out exactly what was going on 

The Hunter-Dulin Building, located at III Sutter Street 

at Montgomery, was the fictional site of the offices of 

Spade & Archer. The building's exterior features 

a bird motif. Courtesy of the San Francisco 
History Center, San Francisco Public Library. 

with respect to that item. This was just after the 
badly wounded and bleeding Captain Jacobi 
(described as "a thin man") of the docked boat La 
Paloma had staggered into his office, clutching 
the wrapped parcel, and then keeled over dead in 
middle of Spade's reception area. And where was 
this office? Most likely in the Financial District, 
at 1 1 1 Sutter Street near Montgomery, in the 
Hunter-Dulin building (which had been complet- 
ed in 1926). Oddly enough, a close look at the 
building's exterior reveals a bird motif on both the 
Sutter and Montgomery Street sides of the build- 
ing. Was this coincidence, or a deliberate choice 
on Hammett's part? 

Hammett himself would have no difficulty 
locating and recognizing his former residences: 
620 Eddy Street (the Crawford Apartments) in 
the Tenderloin, where he lived for five years and 
























> < 


J' — g 7 wa ^ vv^v ^77 ^^r: — ^y/ ^\v // 

> i // /V 


Readers familiar with the novel null enjoy tracing the action at the sues noted on this map. Courtesy of Mike Humbert. 


AA.L-SS3 -J 

Hammett wrote The Maltese Falcon while living on the fourth floor of 891 Post Street, 

most likely in this apartment. Sam Spade's apartment is modeled after Hammett's apartment, 

thought to be no. 401 . Local architect Bill Arney lived in this apartment for several years. 

Courtesy of Bill Arney. 

wrote a substantial number of the Continental 
Op stories; 1309 Hyde Street (the Locarno 
Apartments), where he wrote two additional Op 
stories, "The Big Knockover" and "$106,000 
Blood Money"; 891 Post Street (the Charing 
Cross Apartments), where in a fourth floor 
apartment, he created the character of Sam Spade 
and wrote The Maltese Falcon (a plaque noting 
this is positioned near the building's front 
entrance); 58 1155 Leavenworth (the San Loretto 
Apartments), on Nob Hill, where his family 
lived 59 and where Hammett worked on the man- 
uscript o( The Glass Key, and where he may have 
created another San Francisco detective that he 
named John Guild to be used in a future story; 
and 20 Monroe Street, which may have inspired 
the use of the nearby Burritt Street in The Maltese 
Falcon. Note that the above-listed addresses com- 
prise an incomplete list since Hammett moved 
around a great deal during his time in San 
Francisco. He also moved in and out of a series of 
rooming houses. 

In 1925, in between the creation of the 
Continental Op and the Sam Spade characters, 
Hammett also experimented with some 
other fictional detectives: San Francisco-based, 

poetry-writing detective 
Robin Thin, who was 
featured in "A Man 
Named Thin" and a 
Baltimore-based detec- 
tive named Alexander 
Rush, featured in a story 
called "The Assistant 
Murderer." Hammett also 
began writing book 
reviews for the Saturday 
Review of Literature and, 
in early 1926, began his 
short-term stint at 
Samuels Jewelers. 60 His 
return to writing in 1927 
led to the development of 
novel-length works that 
were initially serialized in 
Black Mask. The first 
stage of this process con- 
sisted of two lengthy short stories that were 
actually novelettes and connected tales: "The Big 
Knockover" and "$106,000 Blood Money." These 
were originally published separately in Black Mask 
in February and May of 1927, respectively, and 
were reissued as one unit in 1943. 61 

Hammett would then write four novel-length 
stories: Red Harvest and The Dain Curse (1929), 
both of which featured the Continental Op; The 
Maltese Falcon (1930), which featured Hammett's 
newly created detective Sam Spade; and The 
Glass Key (1931), with lead character Ned 
Beaumont, an amateur detective. All four were 
first serialized in Black Mask beginning with Red 
Harvest in 1927. 62 In the San Francisco City 
Directory for 1929, for the first time Hammett 
listed his occupation as "writer." 63 

H*t»metl Dagbiel writer rJISS LwtVfcBWcnfe 
" MJk* c dk a h Weinfemutf? Co r Alanteda 
» Perrs? T (satsl bfcpr a«s Tr Co hl3T* Fulton 

Page 732 of the San Francisco City Directory for 1929 in 

which Hammett, then living on Nob Hill, first listed his 

occupation in the directory as "writer. " Courtesy of the 

San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library. 


In late 1929, before moving to New York City, 
Hammett began work on another novel, an early 
version of The Thin Man that featured a mulatto 
detective based in San Francisco named John 
Guild, who worked for the Associated Detective 
Bureaus, Inc., housed in the fictional Frost 
Building. The story involved Guild investigating 
an out-of-town murder with numerous ties to San 
Francisco. After writing about sixty-five pages, 
however, in 1930 Hammett shelved the uncom- 
pleted story, which would not be published in its 
original version until 1975. The short-lived City 
of San Francisco Magazine published this early ver- 
sion of The (First) Thin Man in a special issue 
dedicated entirely to Hammett (November 4, 

pouv enir Ed ition $1 




The cover of the short-lived City of San Francisco Magazine, 

November 4, 1975 edition, dedicated entirely to Dashiell 

Hammett. This publication was owned by the filmmaker 

Francis Ford Coppola and ceased publication in J 976. 

Courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, 

Sari Francisco Public Library. 

In 1933, Hammett would revisit his Thin Man 
story, completely reworking it. He was motivated 
by his need for money and pounded out his fifth 
novel within three weeks, while residing at the 
rundown Hotel Sutton on East 56th Street in 
New York City. 64 The John Guild character in 
the form of a private detective would be dropped, 
as was the story's San Francisco setting. Hammett 
created an entirely new detective, Nick Charles, 
who was actually a retired detective in the story 
and had previously been associated with the 
Trans-American Detective Agency. And, unlike 
Hammett's other detectives, this one had a wife, 
Nora, a lumber heiress, along with a wire-haired 
Schnauzer named Asta. Nick Charles was quite 
different from Hammett's previous detectives. He 
was urbane, talkative, a hard drinker, and very 
witty. Mrs. Charles, while literate and sophisticat- 
ed, was portrayed in the story as rather naive. The 
characters of Nick and Nora were based in San 
Francisco, but the setting for the novel was 
entirely in New York City (Nick, Nora, and Asta 
were visiting that city for the holidays). The 
sleuthing team of Nick and Nora Charles would 
later inspire countless husband/wife or 
male/female investigative teams in films and, 
later, on various television series. It all began with 
Hammett's Nick and Nora. 

While readers can see some elements of the 
original Thin Man story in the rewritten version, 
the latter is really an entirely new story. The title, 
though, would remain The Thin Man. The cover 
of the first published edition of the novel featured 
a photograph of a dapper Dashiell Hammett per- 
sonifying the Thin Man. The detective in the 
story, Nick Charles, was not the Thin Man, how- 
ever. The title actually referred to another 
character in the novel, which created contusion 
with some readers. Hammett also recycled the 
John Guild name in his rewrite of The Thin Man, 
but created an entirely different character. Now 
Guild was a lieutenant with the New York City 
Police Department and was described in the 
novel as "a big sandy man of 48 to 50 years old." 
The Thiri Man would prove to be Hammett's best- 
sellimz novel — and his last. 



5urveitt ance 


*«**--- — . >* 

In 2009, Bay Area-based comedian and cartoonist, Michael 

Capozzola, had a bit of fun with the Sam Spade character. 

Courtesy of Michael Capozzola. 

By the time Hammett wrote what would be his 
final novel, his life had changed dramatically. 
Hammett may have once again been writing 
about a detective, but his new lifestyle was very 
much reflected in the novel and its characters. 
Despite the grim realities of the Great 
Depression, Hammett wrote about characters 
who for the most part enjoyed an endless stream 
of money, an endless stream of liquor, and the 
good life on all levels. While many Americans 
were scrambling to survive and wondered where 
their next meal was coming from, everyone in 
The Thin Man was eating, drinking, smoking, and 
living like there was no tomorrow. 

Hammett himself was spending extended peri- 
ods of time in New York City and Hollywood and 
was generally living very well in both places. 

Warner Bros, had purchased the film rights for 
The Maltese Falcon, and the first of three films 
based on that novel would be released in 1931; 
none would be filmed on site in San Francisco. 
Not to be outdone, MGM purchased the rights to 
The Thin Man and made six films based on that 
one novel; much of the second, After the Thin 
Man (1936), would be filmed in the City. 

Hammett had indeed become the successful 
writer that he had strived to become and was 
enjoying the lucrative benefits of that success. A 
new phase of his life had began that would take 
him down new avenues, but his detective story 
writing would end with The Thin Man. He had 
become disillusioned with that genre, and as he 
observed the "mounting tide of societal corrup- 
tion. The detective's code of personal honor 
could have no effect on a dishonorable world," 65 
felt Hammett. 

Hammett never again lived in San Francisco 
after 1929, nor did he ever again spend any signif- 
icant amount of time in the City. But he had 
married there, had his two daughters there, and 
did much of his best writing there. (Hammett left 
his family behind when he moved to New York. 
He and his wife, Jose, would divorce in 1937. 66 ) 
Fortunately, Hammett's San Francisco hasn't 
entirely disappeared. His San Francisco remains 
all around us; by walking the city's streets, looking 
at the Hammett sites that are still a part of its 
landscape, and by reading his stories, one can 
readily imagine his life and time in the city. The 
Samuels Jewelers street clock, a city landmark, 
remains on Market Street, still ticking away on 
the sidewalk in front of 856, near the entrance to 
the Flood Building (856 was the jewelry shop's 
final Market Street location from 1943 until it 
closed in 1990). 67 Vintage streetcars once again 
rumble along Market Street as they did for 
decades, including during the 1920s. And, most 
of the unique urban and geographical character- 
istics of the city have successfully transitioned 
into the San Francisco of the twenty-first century. 
They're still with us, as is his old grey Royal type- 
writer, the one upon which he wrote The Maltese 
Falcon. It's on display in the rear of the History 
Center on the sixth floor of the San Francisco 


A suggested desktop layout in Hammett's apartrnent. The alarm, clock sits on a copy of Duke's Celebrated Criminal Cases of America, 
just as it did in The Maltese Falcon ivhen Spade was awakened at 2:05 a.m. by a ringing telephone bringing the news of 

Miles Archer's death. Courtesy of Mark Coggins. 

Public Library, also known as the "new main," on 
Larkin Street, along with an original edition of 
the novel. Somehow it's more than fitting that 
those items reside there, considering how exten- 
sively Hammett used the library (albeit the "old 
main") as a resource and how much time he him- 
self spent in its reading rooms. 

Hammett's lifestyle, particularly once he left 
San Francisco in late 1929, eventually caught up 
with him. As the years went by, he frequently 
spent money faster than he could earn it. Despite 
lucrative earnings from his published works and 
Hollywood-related projects, he was often flat 
broke. While his tuberculosis had gone into 
remission and his overall health improved, 
Hammett's drinking increased substantially, 
especially after Prohibition ended in 1933. He 

remained a chain-smoker throughout his life and 
also became addicted to gambling, womanizing, 
and late nights out on the town in New York City 
and Hollywood. Those indulgences further con- 
tributed to the deterioration of his already-frail 
condition as the decades passed. In November of 
1960, he was diagnosed with terminal lung 
cancer. 68 

Samuel Dashiell Hammett died in New York 
City on January 10, 1961. He was sixty-six and 
had been in fragile health for many years. A vet- 
eran of two world wars, Hammett was buried at 
Arlington National Cemetery as Samuel D. 
Hammett. 69 


About the Author 

Monika Trobits is a long-time San Francisco resident 
of almost three decades and a local historian, walking 
tour docent/ 'guide , and writer. She began leading 
historical site and museum tours in 1 989 and walking 
tours for the San Francisco Museum and Historical 
Society in 2004 and for Urban Adventures in 
2010. She established San Francisco Journeys 
( in 201 1 . 
Comments or feedback about this article may be 
directed to 



Gores, Joe, "A Foggy Night," City of San Francisco 
Magazine, November 4, 1975. 

Leiber, Fritz, "Stalking Sam Spade," California Living (San 
Francisco Examiner and Chronicle Sunday edition), January 
13, 1974. 


Fine, David and Paul Skenazy. San Francisco in Fiction: 
Essays in a Regional Literature, Albuquerque: University of 
New Mexico Press, 1995, pp. 3-20, 96-109. 

Hammett, Dashiell, The Big Knockover, edited and with an 
introduction by Lillian Hellman, New York: Vintage Books, 
A Division of Random House, Inc., 1989. (San Francisco 
stories: "Flypaper"-1929, "The Gatewood Caper-1923 (aka 
as "Slippery Fingers"), "Dead Yellow Women"-1925, "The 
Big Knockover -1927, and "$106,000 Blood Money 

Hammett, Dashiell, Crime Stories and Other Writings, New 
York: Literary Classics of the United States, 2001. Note: 
Steven Marcus selected the contents and wrote the notes 
for this volume. (San Francisco stories: "Arson Plus"-1923, 
"Slippery Fingers"-1923, "Crooked Souls"-1923, and 
"Creeping Siamese"-1926.) 

Hammett, Dashiell, The Continental Op, edited and with an 
introduction by Steven Marcus, New York: Vintage Bonks, 
A Division of Random House, Inc., 1992. (San Francisco 
stories: "The Tenth Clew"-1924, "The Golden 
Horseshoe "-1 924, "The House in Turk Street"-1924, "The 
Girl with the Silver Eyes"-1924, "The Whosis Kid"-1925, 
and "The Main Death"-1927.) 

Hammett, Dashiell, Fii»e Complete Novels, New York: pub- 
lished by Wings Books and distributed by the Outlet Book 
Company, a Random House Company, by arrangement 
with Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1980, (The Dain Curse-1929, 
The Maltese Fakon-1930, The Thin Man-1934). 

Hammett, Dashiell, Lost Stories, introduction by Joe Gores, 
edited by Vince Emery, San Francisco: Vince Emery 
Productions, 2005. (San Francisco Stories: "The Barber and 
His Wife,"- 192 2 and "Itchy"- 1924. Other stories: "The 
Parthian Shot," "The Great Lovers," and "The Road 
Home."-all 1922.) 

Hammett, Dashiell, Nightmare Town: Stories, edited by 
Kirby McCauley, Martin H. Greenberg and Ed Gorman, 
New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1999. (San Francisco stories: 
"House Dick" (also known as "Bodies Piled Up")-1923, 
"Zigzags of Treachery"-1924, "Death on Pine Street" (also 
known as "Women, Politics and Murder")-1924, "One 
Hour"-1924, "Who Killed Bob Teal"-1924, "Tom, Dick, or 
Harry"-1925, "A Man Called Spade"-1932, "Too Many 
Have Lived"-1932, "They Can Only Hang You 
Once"-1932, "A Man Named Thin"-1961, and "The 
(first) Thin Man"-1975.) 

Johnson, Diane, Dashiell Hammett: A Life, New York: 
Random House, Inc., 1983, PP . 32-1 18. 

Murphy, Bruce, editor, Bene't's Readers Encyclopedia, Fourth 
Edition, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1996, pp. 

Nolan, William F, Hammett: A Life at the Edge, New York: 
Congdon & Weed, Inc., 1983, pp. 21-74, 80-96, 107-133. 

Nolan, William F, The Black Mask Boys: Masters in the 
Hard-Boiled School of Detective Fiction, New York: William 
Morrow and Company, Inc., 1985, ("History of a Pulp: The 
Life and Times of Black Mask," pp. 19-34; "Behind the 
Mask - Dashiell Hammett" pp. 75-93). 

Wolfe, Peter, Beams Falling: The Art of Dashiell Hammett, 
Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green University Popular 
Press, 1980. 

Woodbridge, Sally B., John M. Woodbridge, FAIA, and 
Chuck Byrne, San Francisco Architecture, Berkeley, 
California: Ten Speed Press, 2005. 

Yallop, David A., The Day the Laughter Stopped: the True 
Story of Fatty Arbuckle, New York: St. Martin's Press, 1976. 



A List of the Original Appearances ofDashiell Hammett's 
Magazine Work, assembled by E.H. Mundell, Kent, Ohio: 
The Kent State University Press, 1968. 

Dashiell Hammett's San Francisco: A Pictorial Guide, Ed 
Sams, Editor, Ric Botelho, photo editor, Ben Lomond, 
California: Yellow Tulip Press, 1999. 


1. Hammett, Dashiell, Nightmare Town: Stories, edited by 
Kirby McCauley, Martin H. Greenberg and Ed Gorman 
(New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1999), introduction, 

p. vii. 

2. Skenazy, Paul, The New Wild West: The Urban Mysteries 
of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler (Boise, 
Idaho: Boise State University Western Writers Series, 
1982), p. 11. 

3. Ibid, P . 13 

4. Hammett, Dashiell, Lost Stories, edited by Vince Emery 
(San Francisco: Vince Emery Productions, 2005), p. 34. 

5. Nolan, William E, Hammett: A Life at the Edge (New 
York: Congdon & Weed, Inc., 1983), p. 15. 

6. Hammett, Dashiell, Lost Stories, p. 42. 

7. Ibid, p. 41. 

8. Fine, David and Paul Skenazy, San Francisco in Fiction: 
Essays iri a Regional Literature (Albuquerque: University 
of New Mexico Press, 1995), p. 106. 

9. Hammett, Dashiell, Lost Stories, p. 45. 

10. Herron, Don, The Dashiell Hammett Tour Thirtieth 
Anniversary Guidebook (San Francisco: Vince Emery 
Productions, 2009), p. 25. 

11. Hammett, Dashiell, Lost Stones, p. 47. 

12. Gores, Joe, presentation/discussion of his novel, Spade 
& Archer: The Prequel to Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese 
Falcon, part of the Monthly Literary Series at the San 
Francisco Public Library, new Main branch, March 31, 
2009 (from author's notes). 

1 3. Hammett, Dashiell, Lost Stones, p. 49. 

14. Ibid, pp. 65-66. 

15. Ibid, pp. 69-70. 

16. Ibid, p. 74. 

17. Ibid, P . 74. 

18. Nolan, William E, The Black Mask Boys: Masters in the 
Hard-Boiled School of Detective Fiction (New York: 
William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1985), p. 20. 

19. Nolan, William E, Hammett: A Life at the Edge, pp. 34, 

20. Skenazy, Paul, The New Wild West, P . 8. 

21. Ibid, p. 5-6. 

22. Hammett, Dashiell, Lost Stories, p. 34- 

23. Skenazy, Paul, The New Wild West, P . 6 

24. Ibid, p. 10 

25. Gores, Joe, "It was a Diamond, All Right," introduction 
to Lost Stories by Dashiell Hammett (San Francisco: 
Vince Emery Productions, 2005), p.21. 

26. Ibid, P . 25. 

27. Murphy, Bruce, editor, Bene't's Readers Encyclopedia, 
Fourth Edition (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 
1996), P . 446. 

28. Gores, Joe, "It was a Diamond, All Right," Introduction 
to Lost Stories by Dashiell Hammett, p. 26. 

29. Hammett, Dashiell, Lost Stories, p. 109. 

30. Ibid, p. 121. 

31. Hammett: Crime Stories and Other Writings, (New York: 
Library Classics of the United States, Inc., 2001 ), p. 

32. Hammett, Dashiell, Lost Stories, p. 108. 

33. Hammett, Dashiell, Dead Yellow Women: Detective 
and Murder Stories from The American Mercury, Inc. , 
selected and edited by Ellery Queen (New York: Dell 
Publishing Company, Inc., 1947), p. 141. 

34- Nolan, William F, introduction to Nightmare Town: 
Stories by Dashiell Hammett (New York: Alfred A. 
Knopf, Inc., 1999), p. xiii. 

35. Marcus, Steven, introduction to The Continental Op by 
Dashiell Hammett (New York: First Vintage 
Crime/Black Lizard Edition, a division of Random 
House, Inc., 1992), pp. vii-xxix. 

36. Mundell, E.H., assembled by, A List of the Original 
Appearances ofDashiell Hammett's Maga&ne Work (Kent, 
Ohio: The Kent State University Press, 1968) p. 6. 

37. Hammett, Dashiell, Lost Stories, page 44- 

38. Nolan, William F, Hammett: A Life at the Edge, 
pp. 62-63. 


39. Taylor, Michael, obituary for Albert Samuels Jr., San 
Francisco Chronicle, March 19, 1998 (on-line entry). 

40. Nolan, William E, introduction to Nightmare Town: 
Stories by Dashiell Hammett, p. ix. 

41. Hammett, Dashiell, Lost Stores, p. 230. 

42. Nolan, William R, Hammett: A Life at the Edge, p. 64. 

43. Hammett, Dashiell, Lost Stories, p. 243. 

44. Ibid, p. 241. 

45. Nolan, William E, Hammett: A Life at the Edge, 
pp. 63-64. 

46. Nolan, William E, introduction to Nightmare Town: 
Stories by Dashiell Hammett, p. x. 

47. Johnson, Diane, Dashiell Hammett: A Life (New York: 
Random House, Inc., 1983), p. 33. 

48. Nolan, William E, Hammett: A Life at the Edge, p. 39. 

49. Laubscher, Rick, "My City, My Game," Market Street 
Railway website,, 2005. 

50. Nolan, William E, Dashiell Hammett: A Casebook 
(Santa Barbara: McNally & Loftin, Publishers, 1969), 
p. 29. 

51. Layman, Richard, ed., Discovering The Maltese Falcon 
and Sam Spade (San Francisco: Vince Emery 
Productions, 2005), p. 7. 

52. Ferlinghetti, Lawrence, Names of 13 San Francisco 
Streets Changed to Honor Authors and Artists, (San 
Francisco: City Lights Books, 1989), p. 13. 

53. Tillmany, Jack, Images of America: Theatres of San 
Francisco (Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia Publishing, 2005), 
p. 52. 

54. Thompson, Ruth and Chef Louis Hanges, Eating 
Around San Francisco (San Francisco: Sutton House 
Ltd., 1937), pp. 160-161. 

55. Todd, Frank Morton, written and compiled by, The 
Chamber of Commerce Handbook for San Francisco (San 
Francisco: The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, 
1914), pp. 52-53. 

56. Ibid, pp. 52-53. 

57. Thompson, Ruth and Chef Louis Hanges, Earing 
Around San Francisco, pp. 75-76. 

58. Herron, Don, The Literary World of San Francisco (San 
Francisco: City Lights Books, 1985), p. 32. 

59. Herron, Don, The Dashiell Ham?nett Tour Thirtieth 
Anniversary Guidebook, p. 1 10. 

60. Hammett, Dashiell, Lost Stories, p. 229. 

61. Hammett, Dashiell, Crime Stories and Other Writings, 
p. 928. 

62. Ibid, pp. 917-918 

63. Herron, Don, The Dashiell Hammett Tour Thirtieth 
Anniversary Guidebook, p. 109. 

64. Ibid, p. 38. 

65. Nolan, William E, introduction to Nightmare Town 
Stories by Dashiell Hammett, p. xvi. 

66. Glossbrenner, Alfred and Emily, About the Author (New 
York: Cader Books, Harcourt, Inc., 2000), p. 94. 

67. Herron, Don, The Dashiell Hammett Tour Thirtieth 
Anniversary Guidebook, p. 156. 

68. Nolan, William E, Dashiell Hammett: A Casebook, p. 

69. Marcus, Stephen, introduction to The Continental Op by 
Dashiell Hammett (New York: Vintage Books, A 
Division of Random House, Inc., 1992), p. xiii. 


The Tenderloin's First 

223 AND 225 ELLIS' 

by Peter M. Field 


Curt Gentry's book The Madams of 
San Francisco: An Irreverent History 
of the City by the Golden Gate 1 
includes, among other things, a well 
researched history of the principal 
madams and parlor houses of the Tenderloin 
District. Gentry traces the origins of one of the 
Uptown Tenderloin's most famous brothels, 225 
Ellis Street, to a madam named Dolly Adams, also 
known as the Water Queen, in the late 1870s. 5 
Gentry, who was scrupulous in citing his sources 
and their reliability, reported that this informa- 
tion was from "the recollections of a local theater 
historian, as told to him by his father many years 
ago." Gentry's only other source was William 
Chambliss, 4 whose limitations as an historian he 
gently pointed out. 5 Still, Gentry's research repre- 
sented a milestone in the Tenderloin's history, for 
if his sources were correct, the time period in 
which this brothel was said to be started made 
225 Ellis Street the neighborhood's first house of 
prostitution. This raises a question: when and 
how did this residential and small business neigh- 
borhood located northwest of Market Street-still 
called St. Ann's Valley 6 by old timers-change 
into San Francisco's middle and upper class hotel, 
entertainment, and vice district? And how and 
when did the neighborhood come to be called the 

The change started in 1876, when Elias J. 
"Lucky" Baldwin's Academy of Music on Market 

Street between Stockton and Powell was rushed 
to completion. It was opened inside the Baldwin 
Hotel a year before construction of the hotel 
was finished. 7 This was the neighborhood's first 
theater and also its first large hotel. The neigh- 
borhood's first office structure, the St. Ann's 
Building on the corner of Powell and Eddy, 8 was 
designed and completed by David Farquharson, 
one of San Francisco's principal 19th century 
architects, 9 the same year as the hotel. And the 
neighborhood's first music hall, the Tivoli 
Gardens, was relocated from Sutter and Stockton 
to the north side of Eddy Street between Mason 
and Taylor by the Kreling brothers in 1879. l0 
These businesses-located within two blocks of 
each other-were following the growth of Market 
Street as it extended to the southwest, 11 an 
expansion that was fueled by San Francisco's 
growing population. In turn, these upscale estab- 
lishments attracted customers with means to the 
neighborhood and this clientele attracted other 
businesses to the neighborhood— for example, 
high class brothels called parlor houses, so named 
because they had parlors in which customers were 
introduced to the prostitutes before making their 
selections. 12 

Verification of Gentry's assertion that the first 
of the district's parlor houses opened in the late 
1870s would help explain when the neighbor- 
hood began to change, as well as ottering a way to 
estimate how long it took to earn its moniker. But 
how can this claim be verified, especially when 


The Baldwin Hotel prior to 1898. The entrance to the Baldwin Theater was planned to be on Ellis Street but was changed to Market 
Street after the hotel was completed. Courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library. 


The Tivoli Opera back in its early days when it was still known as the Tivoli Gardens. The Kreling brothers moved the gardens to 

26 Eddy Street between Anna Lane and Mason in 1879 after a fire nutted us former location in judge Bunitt's mansion 

at Sutter and Stockton Streets. The new building was modeled after Bunitt's old home. Two oj the Kreling brothers can be 

seen standing on the second-story balcony at the right. Courtesy oj the Bancroft Library. 


Gentry, a thorough researcher, has already 
scoured the available sources? This author's 
method was to use more modern research tools 
than those available to Gentry, who did his 
research in the early 1960s, by doing a computer 
search of some of the primary sources, in particu- 
lar the San Francisco City Directories 13 and the 
newspapers. 14 Sanborn fire insurance maps were 
also examined. 15 

The 1886, 1899, and 1905 Sanborn maps 
showed that 223 as well as 225 Ellis were labeled 
KB. (or Female Boarding, a euphemism for a 
house of prostitution) in 1899 and 1905, though 
not in 1886. This suggests that there were two 
brothels, one in each house. But when did these 
brothels first open? The city directory search 
showed that 223 and 225 Ellis appeared for the 
first time in 1867, part of the building boom fol- 
lowing the opening of Market Street past Third 
and Kearny Streets in 1860 by the construction of 
the Market Street Railroad. 16 Each house was 
occupied by a single family with servants. 17 The 
buildings' architectural footprints were nearly 
identical and they shared a structural wall, 18 sug- 
gesting that they were built as a single project by 
one builder for one owner. The owner was proba- 
bly Jacob Schreiber, a bedding dealer 19 who also 
dabbled in real estate. He advertised number 223 
for lease that year as a ten-room house with hot 
and cold water, marble mantels, chandeliers, 
French plate glass windows, and a bath. 20 

The design of number 225 was doubtless simi- 
lar, and Schreiber advertised it for rent in 1870, 2I 
living there himself in 1871. 22 223 was a single- 
family house through 1882, inhabited by the 
superintendant of the Central Pacific Railroad's 
steam ferry company and, at times, the president 
of what was listed variously as the California or 
the Colorado Steam Navigation Company. 
Number 225 was inhabited by single families 
through 1871. Both addresses became rooming 
houses, number 223 in 1883 for just a year, and 
number 225 from 1872 through 1877, after which 
it was again occupied by single families through 
1885. 23 Therefore, in spite of the claims of 
Gentry's sources, 225 Ellis wasn't a brothel in the 

Architect and banker David Farquharson in a photograph that 

appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle on]uly 14, 1914 • 

Farquharson built the St. Ann's Building, 

the Tenderloins first office structure, in 1877 . 


When the Market Street Railroad opetted Market Street southwest of Third in I860, it ran on steam dummies. 

These were steam engines disguised as conventional horse cars so as not to frighten horses. The engines pulled passenger cars 

that had operi upper decks with bench seats. Courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library. 

Number 225 also wasn't the future Uptown 
Tenderloin's first brothel. That honor went to its 
neighbor, number 223. The city directories show 
listings at that address for Inez Leonard, a well 
known madam, starting in 1884, 24 three years 
before 225 Ellis's family listings gave way to a sec- 
ond brothel. Miss Leonard had operated a parlor 
house in Virginia City, Nevada, where she had just 
two prostitutes in 1880. 2S Their occupations were 
coyly listed in that year's census as dressmakers. 26 
Miss Leonard told the census enumerator that she 

was 33 years old, that she was from Maine, that 
her father was from England, and that her mother 
was from Nova Scotia. She abandoned Virginia 
City for San Francisco in early 1883 after the sil- 
ver mines had pinched out and the big money 
had left the Comstock. 2 ' She quickly increased 
her notoriety when she went back to Virginia 
City in May of that year under an assumed name 
to testify as a respondent in the divorce trial of 
James and Theresa Fair. 28 Fair-one of the four 
Bonanza Kintis 2g who made their fortunes from the 


James G. Fair, one of the four Silver Kings, whose fling 

with Inez Leonard became one of the grounds for his divorce. 

From History of the Bench and Bar in California, 

Oscar T. Shuck, ed. Los Angeles: 

The Commercial Printing House, 1901 . 

Consolidated Virginia and California silver 
mines-had been trysting with Miss Leonard at the 
age of 52. The newspapers referred to the location 
of these amours as her house at the southwest cor- 
ner of Dupont and Post Streets. However, this was 
probably one of the upstairs rooms of Marchand's, 
one of San Francisco's French restaurants, 30 the 
building that was actually located on that cor- 
ner. 31 In spite of the court's policy of excluding 
reporters, and despite Leonard's efforts to remain 
incognito, the divorce trial and its details were 
reported across the country. 32 

When Miss Leonard 33 opened her parlor house 
the following year at 223 Ellis, she brazenly adver- 
tised the establishment in the usually stodgy Daily 
Aha California. On August 1 the following adver- 
tisement appeared at the top of the Business 

Personals column: "Miss Inez Leonard, formerly of 
Virginia City, invites the patronage of her former 
friends to her newly and elegantly furnished 
rooms . . ." 34 A writer for the Aha committed a 
gaffe when he reported Mrs. William H. Moore, 
the wife of the president of the Central Pacific 
Railroad's steam navigation company and the 
house's former occupant, as still living at number 
223. (The gaffe was worsened when the article 
went on to list this address as one of the locations 
to buy tickets from the lady managers of the six 
charities supported by the Authors' Carnival 
Association for a series of fundraising concerts 
held at the Mechanics Pavilion. 35 ) 

In 1885 the city directory listed Miss Leonard, 
Miss Helen Jewett (whose listing had been carried 
over from the previous year), and Miss Laura 

§3$*"* Miss Inez Leonard, formerly of Vir- 

inia * 'ity , ifivttas the patronage of !u-r formex 
ru'iids to h*ir uewly and elegantly furnished rooms, 
_'_•:-; EU&g street, near Taylor. Furnished rooms by 
he day, week or month. 

llegt Garden Hose, 10 Cents, at, Lan, -v, 
SOS Kearny street, 

$3?* Show Card Manufacturer— .1. Daniels 
SOS Marke t «t„ Room 11. 

g3^"* I>r. K. Mazzel, oculist, successor to I>r 

W. J. Smith, PhelBD Buildlna. 

V&f Buduefser on Draa^bt and Sold Only 
at the LOUVKE, Phelan'a Building. 

jSttSUKft 2?ersouaiSu 

fggr Parisian Hye Works best in the city 

27 10th st,; offices 714 Washipj?ton aud 213 Post ?t, ' 

83^~ Consult Magic Mirror— Past, Present, 

Futu re. 252*4 -*th si. Ladies, 50 cento ; Gents, 11,00, 

g3£~ Slmkins Ss Pelt, Magnetic Healers. 

Patients visited if derired. 220 Turk St., S. F. ( Cal. 

62gr~ Lawton & Co., Ileal Bstate and Gen- 
eral Business Brokers. Money loaned. 11 (ieary gf. 

tW m Type-Writing and Copying by p f . n 
Xioom 31 St. Ann's Building, 6 Eddy g& Elevator. 

Rheumatism cured. Consultation 
tree. Addreta or call on J. H. Annon, M, D., New 
Atlantic Hotel. San Francisco. 

tW Something New: Magic Screen. High* 

eat medals awarded at Mechanics♦ Fair, W. Utile. 
h v ' o t, 12S Geary et. 

Brothel madam Inez Leonard's Daily Alta California 

advertisement, dated August J , J 884, announcing the 

opening of her brothel at 223 Ellis. 


Virginia City in the 1870s, the decade of the Big Bonanza silver strike, when Inez Leonard conducted her business there. 

Courtesy of the Nevada Historical Society. 

Young at number 223. In 1886 it was Miss 
Leonard with Mrs. Annie F. Young. After that 
year, only Miss Leonard was listed. Her hrazenness 
resurfaced several times when she paid for larger 
listings in capital letters, specifying the renting 
of furnished rooms as her occupation. 36 In 
other years she was listed more conventionally, 
or had no listing at all. 

In 1887 Miss Leonard was entangled in 
a scandal when 14-year-old-Julia Seiler, 
the eldest child of German parents ^ who 
lived nearby at 202 Ellis, ran away with a 
2 5 -year-old coachman named Dennis 
McCarthy. McCarthy was employed by a 
rich politician who boarded his team and rig at 
the Fashion Stables, where McCarthy took care of 
them, next door to Miss Leonard's parlor house. 38 

Drawing of Dennis McCarthy in 
the San Francisco Chronicle 
on October 11, 1895. 
McCarthy u>as accused of 
abducting Jidie Seiler to 
Inez Leonard's brothel, 
which happened to be 
across the street from 
Seder's home. However, 
Seder's later testimony 
showed she actually 
'<% , begged him CO intro- 
duce her to Miss 
Leonard. Eight years 
' later he was convicted 
of murdering the ranch 
foreman he was working 
for near Santa Rosa. 


Miss Leonard was arrested after a police investiga- 
tion revealed that Seiler and McCarthy had spent 
the night together at her brothel. Frederick C. 
Merker, a gambler from Sacramento, had to bail 
her out of jail. Further investigation and a subse- 
quent trial also showed that Leonard introduced 
Seiler to a madam from San Diego, who disguised 
the girl's appearance by dyeing her hair and then 
hid her in a lodging house for several days before 
moving her to San Diego to work in her brothel. 39 

In all likelihood, two things that emerged at 
the trial saved Miss Leonard from being convicted 
for procuring. The girl's testimony made it clear 
that instead of being an innocent or unwilling 
victim of a team of scheming procuresses, she had 
asked McCarthy to introduce her into 223 Ellis so 
she could get away from her family and live a 
"fast" life. 40 Moreover, her appearance-she looked 
several years older than her stated age— and her 
straightforward, unabashed demeanor on the wit- 
ness stand made it clear that she was far more 
sophisticated than the average 14-year-old girl. 41 
In addition, she accused her Prussian father 42 of 
being abusive, a common circumstance among 
girls who became prostitutes. Because of this, 
Seiler said she was afraid to return home. 43 But 
Miss Leonard had to testify a year later at the trial 
of the San Diego madam on a charge of abduc- 
tion, where she skillfully walked a thin line 
between compromising herself and incriminating 
a fellow brothel keeper. 44 

Meanwhile, Mrs. Dora A. "Dolly" Ogden, 
another madam, opened up a brothel at 225 Ellis 
in 1886, 45 next door to Miss Leonard's house at 
number 223. Mrs. Ogden's brothel eventually 
became one of San Francisco's two most famous 
(as well as expensive) parlor houses. 46 Little is 
known of Mrs. Ogden's history. Her 1880 and 
1900 census sheets give contradictory informa- 
tion about her antecedents. If her 1900 census 
sheet age is taken as accurate, then she was born 
in October of 1858, making her around 28 or 29 
when she started the Ellis Street brothel. She had 
originally come to San Francisco in 1880 47 as 
Mrs. D. Ogden, where she worked as a prostitute 
at 11 Belden Place, one of 19th century San 
Francisco's notorious brothel alleys. In 1882 she 

Portraits of teenage 
prostitute ]ulia Seiler and 
San Diego brothel madam 
Kate Clark as they appeared 
in drawings in the San 
Francisco Chronicle on 
August 8, 1888. The 
drawings portrayed Seiler 
as a demure young innocent 
and Clark as a large- 
bosomed procuress , but 
Seller's testimony showed 

nitte Clart. 

returned to San Francisco as Miss D. Ogden. 48 

Mrs. Ogden presided at 225 Ellis until 1893 or 
1894, 49 when Mrs. Nina Hayman, a madam from 
Seattle, 50 took over. Mrs. Ogden was apparently 
more circumspect than Miss Leonard or Mrs. 
Hayman: she was never once mentioned by name 
in the press during her time at 225 Ellis. She went 
on to open up another house at 326 Mason, 51 
near Geary, between 1899 and 1902. 52 

However, Mrs. Hayman, who apparently didn't 
own 225 Ellis, was sued in 1894 in small claims 
court. 53 The suit, for $65, was filed by the build- 
ing's owner, who sought to recover the cost of 
pillowcases, towels, and similar sundries that had 
been unaccounted for at the time of the sale of the 
building (they were apparently at the laundry) to 


one John Flinn. 54 Miss Leonard appeared in the 
papers again in 1893 when she was swindled by a 
tout who gave her a forged betting slip for a twen- 
ty dollar wager on a long shot. The forgery was 
revealed when the nag surprised everyone by 
coming in first at odds of 8 to 1 , causing the tout 
to default on the winnings, which in turn prompt- 
ed Miss Leonard to sue him for her $160.55 In 
1896 Lorraine de la Montanya filed an action for 
divorce against her husband James in which, 
among other complaints, she alleged that he had 
been unfaithful to her numerous times in several 
parlor houses, including Miss Leonard's, in 
1891. 56 In 1896 Mrs. Hayman was quoted at 
length during an investigation of a San Francisco 
minister's infidelities when describing the activities 
of a dressmaker and manicurist who she had 

employed while 
operating a house in 
Seattle. 57 

The following 
month, the story 
came out about a 
hobo, one John P. 
Harmen, a rather 
homely German- 
American who on 
October 11, 1894 
found $53,000 in 
loot from a train 
robbery buried next 

San Francisco Call 
portraits of society 
figures James and 
Lorraine De La 
Montanya. She 
divorced him for, 
among other things, 
consorting with pros- 
titutes at Miss 
Leonard's parlor 

One of Dolly Ogden's 

brothel tokens. The front 

reads, "Dolly Ogden 326 

Mason Street," while the back 

reads "TOURJOURS LE MEME," that is, "always the same.' 

Courtesy of jerry Schimmel. Photograph by Therese Van Wiele. 

to a stand of willows by his campsite near 
Sacramento. He managed to carry away $30,000 
and transformed himself into Carl Herman or 
Schroeder, a well dressed gentleman who was fond 
of wearing diamond jewelry. 58 He then took a 
train to San Francisco and moved into the Golden 
State Hotel in the Uptown Tenderloin in May of 
1895, 59 where he patronized Mrs. Hayman's broth- 
el and several other sporting houses in the district, 
acquiring a reputation as a big spender. He even- 
tually tell in love with one of the prostitutes, May 
Devon, and installed her in an apartment at 412 
Post between Powell and Mason. He was finally 
caught by Wells Fargo detectives in February of 
1896. They recovered just $12,000 from Harmens, 
who was sentenced to three years at Folsom Prison 
tor grand larceny/ 10 

In the meantime, next door at 223 Ellis, Miss 
Leonard was robbed in 1899 by Harry Wilson, a 
black man who specialized in robbing bordellos. 
He was admitted into her house on the pretext o( 
being a rich cattleman from Arizona. He knocked 
Miss Leonard down, rifled through her bureau, 
and ran off with $500 in paper currency. 61 This 
incident seems to have hastened the 5 2 -year-old 
madam's retirement, for the house is mentioned 
in the press as being run by Lavina V. Wettleson, 
also known as Olga Evans, in that same year. 62 
After 1899, Miss Leonard was no longer listed in 
the city directories. 


A portrait of)ohn P. Harmens that appeared in the 

San Francisco Chronicle on February 13, 1896. 

Harmens was also known as Karl the tramp, Charley the 

Dutchman, and other names, after he was arrested by Wells 

Fargo detectives in 1896. He stumbled upon a cache of buried 

loot in 1 894 from a railroad robbery that the thieves buried near 

his campsite near Sacramento the day before he found it. 

He proceeded to cut a swathe through the Tenderloin and 

quickly developed a reputation as a big spender. 

Wettleson seems also to have had her share of 
troubles managing the brothel at 223 Ellis. For 
example, she sued the estate of Jessie S. Potter, a 
deceased heir of the Charles Lux fortune (Potter 
was Lux's stepson) 63 for $1,210 from when he was 
given unlimited credit at the brothel while he was 
still alive. 64 The judge ordered Wettleson's attor- 
ney to submit an itemized bill, and when he 
produced it, "the judge remarked that there were 
some charges that required most delicate consid- 
eration on the part of the court." He managed to 
avoid ruling on the payment of the bill by noting 
the presence of a number of undated items, inter- 
preting this to mean the lawyer had failed to 
comply with his order, in effect disallowing pay- 
ment by the estate. 65 

In 1898, Jessie Mellon, the "house favorite" 
according to Gentry, took over the brothel next 

door at 225 Ellis from Mrs. Nina Hayman, the 
previous madam, as well as adopting her last 
name. From this point on the reader is referred to 
Gentry's excellent book for the rest of the build- 
ing's history. 66 

Later that year Ethel Le Roy, a prostitute who 
had recently moved from a Stockton Street parlor 
house into Jessie Hayman's brothel, was sued by 
the Stockton Street madam for $600 for unpaid 
lodging bills. 67 The madam had Le Roy's trunks, 
packed with her expensive dresses, impounded by 
the police until the suit was settled. 68 Two 
months later Le Roy contracted with a collection 
agency to sue Conrad Hewson, a middle-aged 
remittance man who spent his quarterly 
allowance on her and then borrowed small sums 
of money back from her until his next check 
arrived. The suit was for $650 — the total amount 
of the loans she claimed to have made to him the 
previous spring or summer. The article said that 
Hewson lived at St. Mary's Hospital, "although 
not ill or disabled at present," implying that he 
had some sort of episodic illness, perhaps psychi- 
atric. 69 He died two years later. 70 

In 1905, another one of Hayman's girls, Alma 
Russell, 71 as well as Hayman herself, 72 were ques- 
tioned in the matter of the San Francisco Tax 
Collector, an elected official who had absconded 
with a large amount of money from his office. 
The following month another one of her girls, 
Lillian Meredith, swore out a warrant for assault 
against a man named Charles "Jockey" Lew, a dis- 
barred jockey and longtime crooked bookmaker, 73 
who she said hit her on the face while she was 
entering Pratt and Tierney's Oriental Saloon on 
Mason Street with her pet dog. 74 The apparent 
cause of the assault was his attempt to collect on a 
$10 debt. 75 However, the charge was called into 
question when Meredith failed to appear to testi- 
fy. Moreover, the appearance of the alleged 
assailant, "Jockey" Lew, showed "a weazened (sic) 
and diminutive person of uncertain age . . . [with] 
a swollen jaw," and hinted that Meredith had 
actually assaulted him. 76 

After Miss Leonard's departure in 1899, the par- 
lor house next door at 223 Ellis managed to stay 
out of the newspapers until a 1905 article 


The St. Ann's Building on the' northwest corner of Powell and EcLly Streets in 1880. The two-story structure next 

to it is the Carville Carriage Company factory. A comer of the Baldwin Hotel is seen just across the street. 

Courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library. 


revealed that yet another madam, a woman 
named Roma Graham, was operating it. 77 The 
incident that brought this to light was the knifing 
of a former Olympic Club boxing instructor, 
James A. McGinley, at Miss Graham's. He was 
stabbed by William F. Hopkins, a grand-nephew 
of Mark Hopkins, one of the four Central Pacific 
Railroad barons, 78 who was the current majority 
owner of the St. Ann's Building on the northwest 
corner of Powell and Eddy Streets in the heart of 
the future Uptown Tenderloin. Hopkins had fre- 
quently visited the brothel over several weeks, 
apparently becoming infatuated with Miss 
Graham. At his last visit, he reportedly hit her 
during a jealous argument. McGinley, who was 
also there, intervened and prevented Hopkins 
from hitting her again. 79 Hopkins tried to assault 
McGinley, who refused to fight him on the 
grounds that Hopkins was a cripple. 80 McGinley 
then ejected him through the inner door into the 
vestibule, apparently locking the door after him. 
Hopkins hid there instead of leaving and waited 
for McGinley. When the latter stepped through 
the door ten minutes later, he was stabbed by 
Hopkins. McGinley managed to disarm him in 
spite of several wounds, and had Hopkins arrested 
for assault to murder. 81 McGinley rebuffed a later 
attempt by the defendant's mother to bribe him 
into dropping the charges. 

The case went to trial in 1906 and Hopkins 
was convicted by a jury of the lesser charge of 
simple assault. The judge, angry that the jury 
hadn't convicted Hopkins of assault to murder, 
remanded Hopkins into custody to await sentenc- 
ing. Moreover, he refused a defense motion to 
release him on bail while the conviction was 
appealed, saying he wouldn't treat Hopkins differ- 
ently than any other defendant of lesser means. 82 
Three days later the judge sentenced him to the 
maximum penalty of 90 days in jail. 83 

Two weeks after this the judge threatened to 
investigate the Broadway Jail when he learned 
that Hopkins had been incarcerated there instead 
of the more customary County Jail (located far 
out of town, where San Francisco City College is 
today). It seems the judge heard that the jailers 
were letting him out every other day on the pretext 

of visiting the dentist, for he was seen around 
town on the streets and in various saloons. 84 
Three and a half weeks later he was pardoned by 
Governor Pardee during the aftermath of the 
earthquake and fire, presumably through the 
influence of his wealthy family. 85 There were no 
further mentions of 223 Ellis after this incident. 86 
But what about Dolly Adams? If she wasn't the 
madam who started the parlor house at 225 Ellis, 
then why did Gentry's sources say that she was? 
The only primary source to offer a possible solu- 
tion to this riddle is the city directory listings, 
where it was found that the original madam at 
225 was Dolly Ogden. Thus, it would appear that 
Gentry's theater historian, as well as William 
Chambliss, confused one Dolly for the other. 
They were both well known inhabitants of the 
Uptown Tenderloin demimonde, and they both 
had the same first names. 87 However, it was Miss 
Adams who got all the press, even though Mrs. 
Ogden was in San Francisco over a much longer 
period of time. 


Who was Dolly Adams? She was born Ellen 
Loretta Callahan around I860 88 in New York. 
She was the fourth of at least 10 children, all of 
them girls except one boy. 89 Her parents were 
from Ireland, and her father was a longshoreman 
who died when she was still young. Her mother 
had to go to work to support the family, so Miss 
Adams, who was reportedly willful to begin with, 
grew up with little supervision and became a way- 
ward and independent young girl. She lost her 
virginity when she was 16 and became a prosti- 
tute in a New York parlor house. 90 Around two 
years later, the madam of this house introduced 
her to another madam, Mary Ellis, 91 who along 
with Carrie Maclay (see footnote 30 ), persuaded 
Miss Adams to come with them to San Francisco 
in 1878. 92 

Sometime during her youth she had become a 
good swimmer and had developed the ability to 
hold her breath under water for very long periods 
o{ time. 93 While in San Francisco she swam at 
North Beach and was well known for her water 


Antique cabinet card circa, early I880's, showing Dolly Adams "The Water Queen" of San Francisco (swimmer). 

Courtesy of Google images . 

skills. Somewhere along the way, Adams devel- 
oped an act in which she was known as the Water 
Queen. She appeared on stage in tights and dove 
into a glass-sided water tank to demonstrate div- 
ing and swimming techniques, 94 as well as eating 
food, drinking milk, 95 and smoking cigarettes 
under water % -the latter feats presumably accom- 
plished through legerdemain. A newspaper article 
mentioned photographs of her appearing in a 
mermaid costume as well as in tights, so there was 
apparently more than one version of her act. 97 Of 
course, at least some of her performances were an 
excuse for audiences to see the diminutive but 
unusually well proportioned blonde (in some 
accounts she had brown hair) 98 swim under water 
and stand around on stage in a wet, skin-tight 
bathing suit. 

In 1879, Miss Adams became famous in San 
Francisco when she attended the annual fundrais- 
er tor the Policeman's Widows and Orphans 
Fund, called colloquially the Policeman's Ball. 
That year's event was special because former 
President Ulysses S. Grant had stopped in the city 
and had agreed to attend the fete, which was held 
at the Mechanics Pavilion at Eighth and Market 
Streets. He was marching at the head of the 
solemn processional entry ot the guests of honor 
at the beginning of the first dance when: 

"Suddenly, out or the gay throng, dashed a 
somewhat famous it slightly trail beauty of 
the period-Dolly Adams. She was attired 
in the conventional costume of Cupid. As 
well as the bow and arrow, which tormed 


two-thirds of that attire, she carried a 
lily-emblem of purity. And before the 
General could recover from the first shock 
of her greeting, she had pinned the delicate 
blossom to the lapel of his coat. It was said 
that the indomitable Grant, who had never 
flinched through the horror of 100 pitched 
battles, wilted like a wet dishclout (sic) 
before this unexpected onslaught." 99 

She won first prize for best costume. 100 

Another part of her fame derived from "her 
laughing eye and pearly teeth, and magnificent 
hair of a brownish color which fell to her knees. 
She made many friends among the 'bloods' and 
dollars and diamonds were showered upon 
her." 101 Gentry wrote that she was introduced to 
San Francisco sporting life during this time, and it 
would seem this was done either by Ellis, who had 
brought her out to the West, or Maclay. 102 One of 
them-it's not clear which-was probably the 
unnamed madam who Gentry said persuaded 
Adams to perform an indecent exhibition in her 

water tank. But the plan failed for lack of a male 
partner capable of performing with her under 
water. l03 

Miss Adams seems to have first performed her 
Water Queen act in San Francisco, at the Bella 
Union and the Alhambra theaters, at least 
according to Gentry's sources. 104 However, a 
search of the California Digital Newspaper 
Collection and California Historical Newspapers 
Web sites failed to find any advertisements, 
reviews, or other mentions of her performing in 

When Miss Adams returned to New York, she 
reportedly worked at The Aquarium at Broadway 
and Thirty-fifth Street and at Bunnell's Museum 
at Ninth Street and Broadway. 105 However, an 
exhaustive search of the hundreds of advertise- 
ments and reviews for The Aquarium in the New 
York newspapers failed to turn up any mentions of 
Dolly Adams, 106 though there were at least three 
other water queens advertised under their stage 
names during 1877, its second year of opera- 
tion. 107 In addition, the performances of an 

A drawing of the interior of the Tivoli Gardens beer hall shortly after it moved to Eddy Street, before it started presenting light opera. 
The drawing appeared in the Pacific Coast Musical Review on September 26, 19 15. 


The front of the Bird Cage Theater as it remains today in Tombstone, Arizona. Dolly Adams's performance reportedly precipitated a 
shootout between the Earp and Behan factions of the town. Courtesy of the Arizona Historical Society. 

unidentified "Man Fish" and a "Water-Queen" 
were mentioned in several Aquarium advertise- 
ments and reports in 1880. 108 Thus, the 
Aquarium probably offered these performances as 
one of its stock attractions or as a periodic special 
attraction, hiring different nameless women over 
the years for the part, of who Miss Adams was 
apparently one. Either way, it didn't seem to have 
been particularly salacious, at least as it was per- 
formed at The Aquarium, for columnists stated 
that the majority of its customers were children 
and that they would enjoy the show. 109 As for 
Bunnell's Museum, there were only 22 newspaper 
advertisements and mentions of this venue. 
While they failed to mention either Miss Adams 
or any other Water Queens, the acts that 
were listed included the Tattooed Lady, the 
Rubber Man, the Electric Boy, and some snake 
charmers. 110 

While she was still living in San Francisco, 
Adams seems to have taken her show on the road 
from time to time, for there is a newspaper report 
of her performing one night at the famous Bird 
Cage Theater in Tombstone, Arizona Territory. 
This was during the height of the Behan-Earp feud. 
The Bird Cage was where everyone went at night. 
The Behan/cowboy/cattle rustler/Democrat fac- 
tion would sit in the boxes to the right of the 
stage, while the Earp/gambler/stage coach rob- 
ber/Republican faction would occupy the boxes 
on the left. If one side cheered the act, the other 
side booed it, and this frequently led to gunfire. 
The saloon was crowded the night Miss Adams 
performed, her reputation apparently having pre- 
ceded her, and the cheering and booing were 
consequently lustier than usual. So was the 
exchange of gunfire, which left twelve men dead 
and seven more wounded.' ' ' 


Drawing of a performer at the Bird Cage Theater in Tombstone, Arizona. Twelve men were reportedly killed and 
another seven wounded during an exchange of gunfire over the merits of Dolly Adams's performance there. 

Courtesy of the Arizona Historical Society. 

By the 1880s Miss Adams's fame had become 
national. For example, a woman photographer in 
Boston who specialized in women's vanity por- 
traits kept on hand a number of photographs of 
female celebrities, including "Mrs. Langtry and 
Bernhardt down to Maude Branscombe and Dolly 
Adams" so that her stage-struck customers could 
choose the look they wanted for their own por- 
traits. 112 A Chicago swimming instructor cited 
Dolly as an example of the many actresses who 
are good swimmers. 113 She was also cited as an 
example of women who have made their own 

fortunes, though in Miss Adams's case the fortune 
was reported to be small, around $15, 000. 114 
There were also other women performing similar 
acts, like La Selle the Water Queen at the 
Standard Theater, 115 and Lurline the Water 
Queen in Europe. 116 But they weren't necessarily 
copying Miss Adams, for there had been other 
Water Queens before her. l ! 7 

Unfortunately, Miss Adams had become 
addicted to opium while she resided in San 
Francisco, 118 and was living a dissipated life that 
eventually drove off most of her friends and 


forced her return to New York to see her mother, 
who she had been supporting. 119 While there she 
invested her money, of which a considerable por- 
tion was in diamond jewelry, 120 (an apparent 
influence of Diamond Carrie Maclay, herself a 
great gem collector) 121 in operating a theatrical 
lodging house in New York's Tenderloin 
District, 122 then known as Satan's Circus, 123 for 
two years in the early 1880s. She also developed a 
certain notoriety. For example, Mrs. Emma Uhler, 
whose brother had killed Uhler's lover in New 
York, committed suicide in Miss Adams's lodging 
house, despite her attempts to get medical atten- 
tion for the woman. 124 

By 1886 Miss Adams had quit the boarding 
house business and needed medical attention her- 
self, being desperately ill with bronchitis and 
pneumonia. She was cared for by her mother and 
eight sisters in her room at a cheap lodging house 
called the Oriental Hotel. These relatives also 
kept a close eye on Miss Adams's jewelry and 
other valuables to make sure that no one would 
get hold of them when she passed away. They 
kept her at the hotel in spite of, or perhaps 
because of, a doctor's prognosis that she would die 
unless she was taken to a hospital. 125 But they 
gave up and abandoned her when she hung on, 
after which she was finally admitted to a local 

medical institution 


By July 1886 she had recovered enough to 
track down a man who had absconded with a 
valuable bond belonging to her. The object of her 
search, Col. William H. Gilder, was about to 
leave on a five-year expedition to the Arctic in 
an effort to be the first man to find the North 
Pole. 127 At some point Miss Adams had obtained 
a thousand dollar elevated railroad bond. Just 
before one of her trips to San Francisco, she asked 
Gilder to ascertain if it was worth anything and 
gave it to him to hold for her while he did this. 128 
He never returned it and Miss Adams couldn't 
find him when she came back. A year or two later 
she finally ran into him in Paris, where he told 
her he had given the bond to one of his cousins 
for safe keeping and promised to have him send it 
to her in Paris. But the bond was never sent and 
that was the last she saw of Gilder until 1886, 

Colonel William H. Gilder, as he appeared in The Daily News 
on August 5, J 886. Gilder was the apparent absconder of 

Dolly Adams's $1 ,000 elevated railroad bond. 

Adams tracked him for three years in Paris and New York 

before Gilder finally made good on the bond through his 

sponsor, New York Herald publisher fames Gordon Bennett. 

when she found him again, this time back in New 
York. He now claimed that the cousin who had 
the bond had embezzled it, along with other 
funds, and had fled to Canada. By this time Miss 
Adams had had enough and promptly had Gilder 
arrested on the eve of his departure to the 
Arctic, 129 causing him to miss his ship 130 and 
forcing him to get his sponsor, James Gordon 
Bennet of the New York Herald, to make good on 
Miss Adams's purloined bond 11 ' in exchange for 
dropping the complaint. 1 12 

Miss Adams did not appear in the press again 
until 1888, when it was reported that she had died 
at age 26 on board the steamship City of New York 
from the cumulative effects of syphilis, opium 
addiction, and pneumonia. She had left five weeks 
before to tour the Orient and was sailing back to 
San Francisco on her way to New York because of 
her mother's death. 133 Her body was embalmed 


aboard ship, and she was buried in San Francisco, 
though the newspapers didn't report where. 134 
The Public Administrator applied to administer 
of what was left of her estate-a little tin trunk 
that contained 15 five-dollar gold coins, one 
English sovereign, $10 in Hong Kong money, a 
Metropolitan Elevated Railway Company of New 
York bond worth $1,000, six pieces of diamond 
jewelry, a gold watch, a chatelaine, 135 and several 
fans. Oddly, he was unable to identify any 
heirs. 136 The lawyer appointed to administer her 
estate used all of it to pay the expenses of admin- 
istration, 137 presumably including his bill. 

Thus ended the story of Dolly Adams. Her 
legacy was thousands of publicity photographs of 
herself that surfaced in strange ways after she 
died. In one example, a man named J. G. 
Crawford shot and killed his wife's ex-husband, 
who had been stalking and threatening her for 
years. At the morgue, the deceased ex-husband's 
pockets were found to be full of photographs of 
actresses and other well known women-including 
a photo of Dolly Adams. 138 


As for the question of how the Tenderloin got 
its name, there are any number of theories. 
A sampling of them follows: 

1 . Neighborhood police officers were able to 

afford better cuts of meat for their tables by 
getting higher rates of pay for hazardous duty 
in a high crime area. 139 

2. The neighborhood's geographic boundaries 

approximate the shape of a tenderloin 

steak. 140 

3. The district was where all the restaurants 

or steak houses were. 141 

4- The district was where the "meat rack" 
was located, that is, where underage male 
prostitutes operated. 142 

Unfortunately, these theories all share the same 
flaw-there is little documentary evidence to 
support them. 

A more likely explanation for the origin of the 
name goes back to the days of New York's 
Tammany Hall. In the 1860s, a legendary police 
officer, Alexander "Clubber" Williams, got his 
start in Manhattan's Lower East Side, where he 
was assigned as a patrolman. Williams, a former 
shipyard carpenter who was a very strong man, 
developed a simple method of keeping the peace 
in his part of this famously violent neighborhood. 
Whenever he was assigned to a new patrol route, 
he spent the first two days learning who the 
neighborhood's toughest characters were. He 
then beat them into submission with his billy 
club, and continued almost daily in this fashion 
over the next four years. This earned him his 
sobriquet, and he seems to have relished the 
notoriety it brought him: he once said, "There is 
more law in the end of a policeman's nightstick 
than in a decision of the Supreme Court." As a 
demonstration of just how effective his method 

1 Jk^ **& 

Alexander "Clubber" Williams in the January 13, 1893 edition 

of The World. Williams rose steadily from the rank of New 

York patrolman to become chief of police . A possibly apocryphal 

story attributes the Tenderloin District's name to him. However, 

the name did originate in Manhattan's notorious "silk stocking" 

vice and entertainment district, apparently sometime around 

1887, when the newspapers first started using the term. 


Bird's Eye View Map (detail) , 1896. Outlined m block is the cirea that was characterized as the "tended 

Map courtesy oj Nancy Pratt Melton. 

lorn . 


Today this rather unprepossessing building stands on the site of the former parlor houses at 223 and 225 Ellis Street. It was built in 
J 963 as a Bank of America branch office. It now houses several small businesses, including a surveillance equipment firm . 

Courtesy of the author. 

was, he took a group of reporters for a walk 
around one of Manhattan's larger blocks after 
leaving his gold watch and chain dangling on a 
corner lamp post at Third Avenue and Thirty- 
fifth Street. When they returned to the corner, 
the watch and chain were still there, apparently 
untouched by human hands. 

The newspapers protested this style of law 
enforcement, but it did little good. Williams, who 
was both Irish and connected with the Tammany 
political machine, received promotions with 
almost the same regularity as his pay envelopes. 
In 1876 he had made captain and was given the 
old Twenty-ninth Precinct, which included 
Satan's Circus, New York's "silk stocking" vice 
district, which ran from Twenty-fourth to Fortieth 
Streets between Fifth and Seventh Avenues, 

where the most expensive parlor houses and gam- 
bling clubs operated. This new assignment was 
going to make Williams a rich man. Of course, he 
had always grafted while he was a New York cop, 
but the amount was never very high since neigh- 
borhoods like the Lower East Side-being 
poor-didn't generate nearly the amount of rev- 
enue that a rich neighborhood like Satan's Circus 
could provide. Williams was so grateful for the 
transfer that when asked how he liked his new 
assignment, he was alleged to have said, "I've 
been living on chuck steak for a long time and 
now I'm going to get a little of the tenderloin." 143 
That brought the term into popular usage, which 
is probably how the press got hold of it. The name 
stuck. But exactly when did the term become 


This three story red brick building on the southwest corner of Ellis and Mason is still standing in Tenderloin, photographer Mark 

Ellinger's beautiful photograph. It was the Uptown Tenderloin location of two of gambling and prostitution boss ferome Bassity's 

many illicit busmesses. One of his brothels was run by his mistress, brothel madam Stella Hayes, on the second and third floors of this 

building. He opened his gambling venue, the Thirty -third District Assembly Club, in the basement after a heat wave forced the closing 

of the brothel. Many of these buildings from the Uptown Tenderloin days are still standing. Courtesy of Mark Ellinger. 

The story of Williams's rise in the New York 
Police Department and the numerous investiga- 
tions into his violence and grafting 144 are 
documented by many sources, though the tender- 
loin quote may have been apocryphal. But a 
search through the America's Historic 
Newspapers Web site showed clearly that the 
term tenderloin, as used to describe a neighbor- 
hood, appeared for the first time in a newspaper 
in New York in 1887 14S and then spread across 
the United States. 146 As newspapers in different 
cities started referring to their local entertain- 
ment and vice districts as tenderloins, the term 
became ubiquitous in the same way that words 
like Kleenex and Xerox morphed from upper to 
lower case. The term tenderloin had reached San 
Francisco by 1891. 147 

This was when the San Francisco newspapers 
started referring to several different neighbor- 
hoods as tenderloins: the Barbary Coast, South of 
the Slot, the Chinatown alleys, the Dupont and 
Kearny Street corridors and their allys south of 
California Street, and their alleys, and the area 
south and southwest oi Union Square. 148 After 
the 1906 earthquake and fire, the downtown 
retail and shopping districts moved first to Van 
Ness Avenue and then to the Western Addition 
along the Fillmore Street corridor betwenn Hayes 
and California Streets until the downtown area 
could be rebuilt. 149 The vice and entertainment 
districts that had been located south and south- 
west of Union Square followed the retailers to the 
Fillmore Street area. Brothels, saloons, cafes, and 
gambling joints were opened on some of the side 


streets between McAllister and Geary, causing 
San Francisco to start refering to this neighbor- 
hood as the Uptown Tenderloin to distinguish 
itself from its former downtown incarnation. The 
vice operators were quickly chased out of this 
middle class residential and shopping district and 
back to their former neighborhoods, but the name 
stuck. 150 

Hence the Uptown Tenderloin's name came 
into being. The first two brothels to follow the 
new customer base provided by the first hotels, 
office building, theaters, and music halls in the 
future Uptown Tenderloin did so in 1884 and 
1887, attracting complementary businesses (such 
as saloons catering to the demimonde and quasi- 
legal high stakes gambling clubs), 151 as well as 
competing businesses (such as other parlor hous- 
es). 152 Also moving into the area, for the same 
reason, were various classes of criminals, who 
preyed on each other as well as on visitors. In 
addition, support businesses such as hotels, lodg- 
ings, liquor stores, restaurants, and other concerns 
serviced the floating population of workers who 
followed the jobs created by these businesses. 

Of course, this general trend toward vice 
chased many, if not most, of the neighborhood's 
original pre-1876 residents elsewhere. Thus, it 
makes sense that the area became referred to as a 
tenderloin (or the Tenderloin) during the 16-year 
period between 1876 and 1891. And so St. Ann's 
Valley, a hamlet near the edge of the Mission Bay 
marshes in the 1850s, became the Tenderloin of 
the 1890s and the Uptown Tenderloin of post- 
earthquake San Francisco. Over the decades the 
name kept changing-from the Uptown 
Tenderloin to the Tenderloin District after World 
War I, from the Tenderloin District to the TL in 
the 1980s, and from the TL to the 'Loin in the 
1990s. At the time of this writing (2011) the old 
neighborhood is changing again, trying to trans- 
form itself from a central city slum into the 
legitimate entertainment, hotel, and restaurant 
district it used to be, when it shared the streets 
with parlor houses, gambling clubs, and concert 
saloons. Who knows what its next name will be? 


Peter M . Field is a longtime San Francisco 
resident who is currently researching and writing a 
history of San Francisco's Tenderloin District. He 
also leads history walks of the Tenderloin and 
Richmond Districts for City Guides. 


1 . This article is part of a research project by the author 
tracing the history of San Francisco's Tenderloin 
District from its origins in the 1840s to the present. 

2. Curt Gentry, The Madams of San Francisco (Garden 
City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1964) 

3. Curt Gentry, ibid, 166. 

4- William H. Chamhliss, Chambliss' Diary; Or, Society As 
It Really Is, New York, Chamhliss and Company, 1895, 
Chapter XII. 

5. Curt Gentry, ibid, 161-164. 

6. This was the area's original name in the 1850s before 
development flattened out the valley that it was named 

7. Baldwin's Academy of Music, in spite of its gorgeous 
architecture and interior beauty, was unsuccessful at 
first, primarily because the papers quickly labeled it a 
fire trap ("Danger Ahead," Daily Alta California, March 
22, 1876, 1). Baldwin rushed it to completion so quickly 
that it opened a full year before the hotel that was sup- 
posed to house it was completed, giving its patrons the 
unique experience of going to a theater inside a build- 
ing that was still under construction. But the hurried 
finish resulted in a less than optimally designed venue, 
so when patrons discovered for themselves that the 
newspaper warnings were correct, they stopped going. 
Baldwin immediately added the additional aisles and 
exits recommended by the papers, and patronage picked 
up again. ("The Alterations in Baldwin's Academy of 
Music," Daily Alta California, March 24, 1876, 1; 
"Baldwin's," Daily Alta California, May 29, 1876, 1.) 

8. "Our Delmonico's," San Francisco Chronicle, September 
9, 1877, 8; San Francisco City Directories (San 
Francisco, various publishers, 1850 through 1982). 

9. Anne Bloomfield, "David Farquharson: Pioneer 
California Architect", California History, 59, 1, Spring 
1980, 16-33. 

10. San Francisco City Directories, ibid. 

1 1 . "The stride of travel toward the Market-street outlet 
from the city has compelled the abandonment of the 
old and familiar locations for the new . . . theaters, 
hotels and places of resort have been compelled to 
withdraw from the old quarters and advance with the 


march of progression to the southwest." ("Elegant 
Establishments," Daily Alta California, September 23, 
1877, 1.) 

12. Nearly the same events occurred in 1963, almost a cen- 
tury later. That year Conrad Hilton finished building 
the neighborhood's first major hotel since the Roaring 
Twenties, on the western half of the block bounded by 
Mason, Ellis, Taylor, and O'Farrell Streets, and then 
expanded the project to take over the rest of the block a 
decade later. This attracted several other large hotel 
projects, as well as several theaters. It also brought a 
new customer base to the area, triggering a flood of X 
rated movie theaters, bookstores, and massage parlors, 
as well as an exponential increase in the number of 
prostitutes and drug dealers working the Tenderloin. 
("There's big money made, straight and on the sly," San 
Francisco Examiner, September 20, 1977, 1.) In both 
centuries the principle was the same: the new legitimate 
businesses attracted the customers who attracted the 
illegitimate businesses. 

13. San Francisco City Directories as searched in sfgenealo- 

14. The following websites were searched for mentions of 
the Ellis Street addresses, as well as for the names of the 
various madams and other historical figures involved 
with these brothels: the California Digital Newspaper 
Collection, Pro Quest's San Francisco Chronicle data 
base, America's Historical Newspapers, and California's 
Historical Newspapers. 

15. Sanborn Fire Insurance maps (Sanborn Map Co., 1886, 
1899, and 1905), San Francisco Public Library, San 
Francisco History Center. 

16. Walter Rice, Ph. D. and Emiliano Echeverria, When 
Steam Ran on The Streets of San Francisco (Forty Fort, 
Pennsylvania, Harold E. Cox, 2002) 11-13). 

17. San Francisco City Directories (see note 13). 

18. Sanborn Fire Insurance maps (see note 15). 

19. Schreiber was an importer of pulu, ("New 
Advertisements," Daily Evening Bulletin, November 29, 
1856, 4) "a soft, elastic vegetable fiber of yellow-brown 
hue obtained from the young fronds of Hawaiian tree 
ferns, used for mattress and pillow stuffing" (Random 
House Unabridged Dictionary, 1967 edition). Pulu is a 
Hawaiian word meaning "something wet" according to 
Random House's dictionary. Schreiber was a president 
of the Board of St. Mark's Church on the south side of 
Geary between Stockton and Powell in the 1860s 
before the area became a shopping district ("The 
German Lutheran Church," Evening Bulletin, July 21, 
1863, }), a member of the Board of Managers of the 
Industrial School (a kind of boys reformatory) during 
the same decade ("Industrial School Officers," Evening 
Bulletin, June 6, 1865, 3), a sometime candidate tor 
Eighth Ward supervisor as a Democrat on the National 
Union Party ticket ("Miscellaneous," Evening Bulletin, 
September 4, 1866, 2), and was bankrupt in 1870 
("Assignee's Sale In Bankruptcy," Daily Evening Bulletin, 

December 12, 1870, 4). Later that decade he became 
involved in mining stocks ("Mining Incorporation," 
Daily Evening Bulletin, May 1, 1873, 3). 

20. "To Let," Daily Alta California, February 23, 1867, 2. 

21. "Today's Advertisements," Daily Evening Bulletin, April 
11, 1870,2. 

22. San Francisco City Directories (see note 13). 

23. San Francisco City Directories, ibid. 

24- San Francisco City Directories, ibid. A search of the 
census records showed that the downtown brothels were 
still located east and northeast of Union Square up to 
1880, with none yet west of Stockton Street. Nor has 
the author's extensive research into the Tenderloin's 
history found any others in the 1870s or early 1880s 
that preceded either of these houses. However, see end- 
note 44 on next page. 

25. United States Census, 1880, as searched in 

26. Ibid. 

27. Oscar Lewis, Silver Kings (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 
1967), 276-277. 

28. "The Pacific Slope. A Divorce and Four millions for 
Mrs. Fair," San Francisco Chronicle, May 13, 1883, 8. 
Mrs. Fair was represented by Richard S. Mesick, a 
well known Virginia City lawyer who himself had 
an affair with another well-known San Francisco 
madam-Diamond Carrie Maclay ("The Wages Of Sin," 
San Francisco Chronicle, June 16, 1893, 5). Leonard 
was escorted into the courtroom by Mesick's partner, 
Richard V. Dey, who was the executor of Maclay 's will 
when she died ("Carrie Maclay 's Will," The Morning 
Call, October 18, 1891, 10). 

29. Rand Richards, in his book Historic Walks in San 
Francisco (San Francisco, Heritage House, 2001, 
266-267) characterized Fair as "self aggrandizing, with a 
huge ego, he thought ot himself as the brains of the out- 
fit, looked at his partners mostly with contempt, and 
loved gloating about how he took advantage of others 
in business deals . . . and had a reputation as a slumlord 
because he failed to pay tor upkeep on any of his 
properties-lease agreements shitted the burden of 
maintenance to his tenants." 

30. Marchand's was next door to Diamond Carrie Maclay s 
two parlor houses at 205 Post and 108 Morton Streets. 
The restaurant's south side looked out over Morton 
Street during many of that thoroughfare's most infa- 
mous years as one of San Francisco's brothel alleys. The 
fanciest French restaurants-ot which Marchand's was a 
typical example-were a San Francisco institution. 
While respectable families could eat in their main din- 
ing rooms without compromising themselves, they were 
also meeting places tor unrelated single men and 
women of a certain social class. Thus, dining in one of 
the screened oft mezzanine rooms would jeopardize the 
reputation of the woman, and dining upstairs in one of 
the locked rooms made the matter of reputation moot. 


31. San Francisco City Directories (see note 13). 

32. For example, in Washington D.C.("Senator Fair's 
Wife," National Republican, May 8, 1883, 1.) 

33. Or Mrs.? Both newspaper articles and city directories 
were inconsistent on this point. 

34- "Business Personals," Daily Alta California, August 1, 
1884, 2. 

35. "The Six Charities," Daily Alta California, November 

36. In 1889, 1892, and 1896, the city directory printed her 
name in capital letters in large point, boldface type, a 
marked departure from usual parlor house practice, 
which normally emphasized discretion and anonymity. 

37. Ibid. 

38. Sanborn Fire Insurance maps (see note 15). 

39. "A Girl Betrayed," San Francisco Chronicle, August 16, 

40. "He Was Too Kind," San Francisco Chronicle, December 
14, 1887,6. 

41. Ibid. 

42. Ibid. 

43. Seiler may have straightened out her life after this 
because the 1900 census showed her as living with her 
mother and several younger siblings in a house on Bush 
Street in Pacific Heights when she was 27. Two other 
significant pieces of information were listed on the 
census sheet: her father was no longer living with them, 
and her father and mother's last child was born the 
month before Julia ran away to 223 Ellis. A possible 
interpretation of these data is that Herr Seiler and his 
wife separated shortly after-or before-Julia was returned 
to her family. 

44. "Abducted Julia," San Francisco Chronicle, August 8, 
1888, 8. 

45. San Francisco city directories(see note 13); Sanborn 
Fire Insurance maps (see note 15). The city directories 
were published every April. However, five Japanese 
women were arrested in February of that year for run- 
ning a brothel at 1 16 Ellis, the former home of St. 
Ann's Valley pioneer John O. Hanscom. Thus, it is dif- 
ficult to determine whether Ogden's establishment was 
the neighborhood's second or third brothel. Since there 
is no evidence that the Japanese brothel stayed open 
very long, the author considers 225 Ellis to be the 
neighborhood's second brothel. See endnote 24 above. 

46. Curt Gentry, The Madams of San Francisco (Garden 
City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1964) 
(164, 189-192). 

47. "Passenger Lists," Daily Alta California, April 26, 1880, 

48. "Passenger Lists," Sacramento Daily Record-Union, April 
1, 1882,8. 

49. San Francisco City Directories (see note 13). 

50. "Mattie Overman In A New Light," San Francisco 
Chronicle, January 1, 1896, 8. 

51. United States Census, 1900; San Francisco City 
Directories; San Francisco phone books. 

52. Ogden distributed advertising tokens from this house to 
likely referral sources for customers. Ogden's tokens had 
her name and address on one side, and the phrase Tout 
Le Meme (always the same) on the other. (Jerry F. 
Schimmel, "Frisco's Brothel Tokens," Token and Medal 
Society Journal, 43, 6, December 2003, 146-154.) These 
tokens were distributed to hack drivers, newsstand oper- 
ators, bartenders, waiters, doormen, hotel clerks, house 
detectives, and anyone else who might send a customer. 
If the customer actually showed up and spent money, 
the referent would receive a little red envelope by 
messenger with a kickback-generally a gold coin 
representing 10% of whatever the customer spent. 

(see note 12, 164, 214). 

53. Then called the Justice Court. 

54. "Trifling Troubles," Daily Alta California, September 14, 
1894, 7. 

55. "That Revolver Race," San Francisco Chronicle, April 
19, 1893, 5. 

56. "Wants To Be Free," San Francisco Chronicle, December 
21, 1893, 12. 

57. "Mattie Overman in a New Light," ibid. 

58. "The Cash Found by a Roving Tramp," San Francisco 
Chronicle, February 13, 1896, 11. 

59. "He Was a Modern Monte Cristo," San Francisco 
Chronicle, February 14, 1896, 9. 

60. "The Cash Found by a Roving Tramp" (see note 58); 
"The cursed good luck of Charley the Dutchman," San 
Francisco Chronicle, September 10, 1949. 

61. "Wilson No Strangler But A Bold Thief," The San 
Francisco Call, September 27, 1899, 7. 

62. "Says Potter Was Not 111," San Francisco Call, November 
28, 1900, 12; "Kershow Will Case in Court," San 
Francisco Call, November 19, 1901, 5; "Miss Wettleson's 
Suit Dismissed," San Francisco Chronicle, May 26, 1900, 
7. Miss Evans (also known as Miss Wettleson) herself 
started out as a prostitute at a brothel at 1 7 Stockton 
Street between Market and O'Farrell at least as far back 
as 1893 ("Olga Was Wicked," The MorningCall, May 
25, 1893, 10). 

63. "Gets a Million," The EveningNews, December 23, 
1897, 2. 

64. Up to the beginning of WW I, newspapers reported 
a number of incidents in which rich parlor house 
patrons-who were routinely given credit at these 
establishments-died while still owing money to the 
brothels, forcing the madams to sue their estates in 
order to collect. 

65. "Jesse Potter's Fun Was of the Expensive Kind," San 
Francisco Call, May 5, 1900, 9. 


66. Curt Gentry, (see note 2), 183-208 & 213-214. 

67. There was an earlier prostitute, also named Ethel Leroy, 
who was killed in 1894 by a jealous lover. Her real name 
was Effie King, hence the punning alias ("A Deed Of 
Blood," The MomingCall, August 8, 1894, 10). 

68. But Le Roy's attorney managed to get her trunks 
returned through a court clerk's error ("Trouble Over 
Trunks and a Clerk's Mistake," San Francisco Chronicle, 
September 22, 1900, 14). 

69. "Sues Former Lover to Recover a Loan," San Francisco 
Chronicle, November 16, 1900, 9. 

70. "Deaths," The San Francisco Call, July 4, 1902, 11. 

71. "Jury Probes Tax Office Methods," San Francisco 
Chronicle, May 11, 1905, 16. 

72. "Believe Money Was Hidden Here," San Francisco 
Chronicle, May 19, 1905, 16. 

73. "Better Racing is in Prospect," San Francisco Chronicle, 
November 2, 1896, 4; "Semper Lex Wins in the 
Handicap," San Francisco Chronicle, November 22, 

74- "Strikes Woman on Face," The San Francisco Call, 
December 30, 1905,5. 

75. "Tout Uses Force to Collect from Woman," San 
Francisco Chronicle, December 30, 1905, 5. 

76. The San Francisco Call, December 31, 1905, 35. 

77. "Capitalist Jailed for Wielding Knife," The San Francisco 
Call, July 18th, 1905, 14. 

78. "The Eastern Shore," Daily Alta California, March 2, 

79. Hopkins had a history of impulsive and conflicted rela- 
tionships with women. He fell in love with a nurse of an 
apparently different social class who was caring for the 
wife of the owner of the hotel that Hopkins was staying 
in during a visit to Highland Springs in 1899, The mar- 
ried her a month later, taking up residence with her at 
the springs. But he seems to have been a bit of a philan- 
derer ("He Dined with the Servants," San Francisco 
Chronicle, September 9, 1901, 16). They went through 
several years of on and off divorce proceedings 
("Hopkins Scores the First Point," San Francisco 
Chronicle, May 28, 1901, 7; "Says His Wife Harasses 
Him," San Francisco Call, February 22, 1902, 7; 
"Betrothals Are Abroad in the Air," San Fray\cisco Call, 
May 23, 1904, 5) while Hopkins tried to hide his wealth 
by transferring it to his sister ("Real Estate 
Transactions," San Francisco Call, January 11, 1901, 11; 
"Mrs. Hopkins' Suit," San Francisco Chnmicle, June 1, 
1901, 14) and to his investment company ("Real Estate 
Transactions," San Francisco Call, June 27, 1901, 1 1; 
"Hopkins Divorce Case," Sari Francisco Chronicle, 
August 9, 1901, 10). 

80. The newspapers didn't explain what this meant. 
However, during divorce proceedings initiated by his 
wife, Hopkins was reported to have responded in part by 
saying, "that he being crippled and lame, needed atten- 
tion from the servants" ("He Dined With The 
Servants," ibid. While there was a William Hopkins 
who lost two of the fingers of his left hand when he was 
ten years old in 1869 ("Local Matters," Daily Evening 
Bulletin, July 6, 1869, 3; "Accident to a Boy," Daily Alta 
California, July 4, 1869, 1 ), this was a different person 
than William E Hopkins, who wasn't ten years old until 
1888 {Daily Alta California, March 2, 1888, 8). 

81. McGinley also seems to have been an Uptown 
Tenderloin habitue. He brought charges against a police 
officer two years later for assaulting him inside a saloon 
at the southeast corner of Golden Gate and Hyde 
("Says Patrolman Assaulted Him," San Francisco 
Chronicle, August 16, 1908, 52). 

82. "Jury Finds William Hopkins Guilty of Simple Assault," 
San Francisco Call, March 15, 1906, 4- 

83. "Wealthy Youth Sent to Jail," San Francisco Call, 
March 18, 1906, 34. 

84. "Favors Shown Rich Prisoner," San Francisco Call, 
April 1, 1906,45. 

85. "Governor Grants Reprieve," Los Angeles Herald, 
April 27, 1906, 2. 

86. 223 Ellis madam Roma Graham went on to open 
another brothel in the Fillmore District after the 1906 
earthquake and fire ("Mooney Blames Police Judges," 
San Francisco Chronicle, April 14, 1907, B33) until she 
was chased back into the Tenderloin and reopened at 
162-164 Turk (San Francisco Chronicle, September 20, 
1908, reprinted in "The Wayback Machine," in 
Datebook, San Francisco Chronicle, September 2 1 , 

87. Thus, Gentry's assertion that the madam under whose 
sway Adams often found herself— presumably Carrie 
Maclay — arranged trysts for her in French restaurants 
with wealthy admirers, makes more sense when she is 
viewed as a courtesan instead of a madam. Another 
assertion of Gentry's, that Adams kept the richest cus- 
tomers to herself, may have confused Adams with 
Maclay or Leonard. These latter two women did indeed 
keep at least some of their richest customers to them- 
selves. In Maclay 's case this was Judge Richard Mesick. 
"The Wages of Sin," (see note 13). In Leonard's case 
this was James G. Fair. "The Pacific Slope: A Divorce 
and Four Millions for Mrs. Fair" (see note 28). 

88. United States Census, ibid; "Dolly Adams Found 
Dying," The Sun, April 3, 1886, 5. 

89. United States Census (see note 25); "Dolly Adams 
Found Dying," ibid. 


90. "The 'Water Queen'", San Francisco Chronicle, January 
28, 1888, 8. She was listed as Dolly Adams, instead of 
Ellen Callahan, on the passenger list of the train she 
took to San Francisco two years later, ("Overland 
Passengers," and since this was before she developed her 
stage act, it is inferred that Dolly Adams was her house 
name when she was a prostitute. 

91. "Morton Street: The Real Story," Peter M. Field, MS. 

92. Ibid. The article says this was in 1877, but this is appar- 
ently incorrect as the first mention of her coming to 
San Francisco with Mary Ellis is in 1878 ("Overland 
Passengers," ibid). She made the same trip again with 
Miss Ellis the following year ("Overland Travel," San 
Francisco Chronicle, May 22, 1879, 3). 

93. Gentry (see note 2); "The Water Queen's Story," The 
Sun, March 20, 1881,3. 

94. "Death of Dolly Adams," The Morning Call, January 28, 

95. "Colonel Gilder Arrested," New-York Daily Tribune, July 
14, 1886, 1. 

96. "Dolly Adams Found Dying" (see note 85). 

97. Ibid. 

98. "Feminine Corsages," St. Paul Daily Globe, May 8, 1886, 
1 1. Or was she a brunette? ("The 'Water Queen'" see 
note 94). 

99. "San Francisco's Thoroughfares," San Francisco 
Chronicle, February 8, 1920, E6. 

100. "The 'Water Queen'" (see note 94). 

101. "The 'Water Queen'," ibid. 

102. It may well have been Maclay. She was an opium 
addict, and Gentry writes that the madam who intro- 
duced her into San Francisco sporting circles is also 
the one who introduced her to opium, on which 
Adams also became dependent (Gentry see note 2). 

103. (See note 2). 

104. (See note 2). 

105. "Dolly Adams Found Dying," (see note 94). 

106. This was done by an online search through the 
America's Historical Newspapers website. 

107. "Amusements," February 13, 1877, 3; "Amusements," 
New-York Daily Tribune, May 11, 1877, 3; 
"Amusements," New- York Daily Tribune, December 

108. "Tom Thumb at the Aquarium," New-York Daily 
Tribune, April 20, 1880, 8; "Music And The Drama," 
New- York Daily Tribune, April 23, 1880, 4; "The 
Aquarium," New- York Daily Tribune" May 6, 1880, 4. 
The Aquarium opened in 1876 and closed in 1881 
("Amusements," New-York Daily Tribune, October 6, 
1876, 7; "Home News," New-York Daily Tribune, April 
28, 1881, 8). Her dates there were mostly likely some- 
time during its last two years, given that her first 

performances were in San Francisco and that there is 
no evidence that she was in San Francisco before 


109. Ibid. 

1 10. "Amusements," The Sun, April 2, 1882, 7 

111. "A Tragic Tale of Tombstone," Omaha Daily Bee, 
February 20, 1888,3. 

112. "Bazarre (sic) Boston Beauties," Omaha Daily Bee, 
March 8, 1883, 2. 

113. "How the Girls Swim," National Republican, July 20, 

1883, 7. 

1 14- "Queens of the Ranch," Daily Aha California, June 1 7, 

115. "Standard Theater," Daily Aha California, January 1, 

1884, 8. 

1 16. "Notes," Daily Alta California, December 23, 1886, 8. 

117. Ads show Lurline the Water Queen performing at the 
Olympic Theater at 624 Broadway when Dolly would 
have been only 14 or 15 years old ("Amusements," 
New-York Daily Tribune, November 24, 1875, 3). 

118. "Sentence of Opium Smokers," Evening Bulletin, 
March 27, 1882,2. 

1 19. "The 'Water Queen'" (see note 94). 

120. ibid. 

121. "The Wages Of Sin" (see note 28). 

122. "By Poison in Poverty," The Sun, February 15, 1884, 1 

123. Herbert Asbury, The Gangs of New York (New York, 
Thunder's Mouth Press, 1998), 161-162; Luc Sante, 
Low Life (New York, Vintage Books, 1991) 113; 
Kenneth T Jackson, ed., The Encyclopedia of New York 
City (Yale University Press, New Haven, 1995), 1161. 

124. "By Poison in Poverty" (see note 122). 

125. "Dolly Adams Found Dying" (see note 88). 

126. "No Hope For Dolly Adams," San Francisco Chronicle, 
April 16, 1886, 3; "Nearing the End," Daily Evening 
Bulletin, April 15, 1886,3. 

127. He had made two previous Arctic expeditions ("The 
North Pole," The Daily News, August 5, 1886, 3) 

128. This is born out by a newspaper item listing Miss 
Adams as a train passenger on her way to San 
Francisco shortly after the date she said she gave the 
certificate to Gilder. (Sacramento Daily Record-Union, 
February 24, 1883,4. 

129 "Going to the Pole on Bail," The Sun, July 14, 1886, 1. 

130 "Colonel Gilder Gets Left," San Francisco Chronicle, 
July 15, 1886,8. 

131. "The North Pole Expedition," Sacramento Daily 
Record-Union, July 20, 1886, 1. 


132. "Col. Gilder May Go North After All," The Sun, 
August 12, 1886,4. 

133. She may have stopped by to see her old friend 
Diamond Carrie Maclay at Maclay's parlor house at 
205 Post. As ill as she apparently was, one wonders if 
this trip may have been in the nature of a final jour- 
ney. Another hypothesis is that she went to China to 
seek a cure for her opium addiction. Or perhaps she 
went to seek a more stable opium supply. 

134- "Burial Of Dolly Adams," San Francisco Chronicle, 
February 11, 1888, 8. The location of her body is still 

135. A clasp or chain worn at the waist for holding keys. 

136. "The Probate Court," Evening Bulletin, February 13, 
1886, 3; "The Probate Court," Evening Bulletin., 
February 15, 1886, 3. 

137. "The 'Water Queen's' Estate," Daily Alta California, 
August 14, 1888, 1; "Dolly Adams' Estate," Evening 
Bulletin, August 14, 1888, 1. 

138. "A Bullet Ends It," San Francisco Chronicle, February 
3, 1888,8. 

139. Louis K. Lowenstein, Streets of San Francisco 
(Berkeley, Wilderness Press, 1996), 118. 

140. Taken from the author's notes of conversations with 
participants in his historic walking tours of the 
Tenderloin District for San Francisco's City Guides. 

141. ibid. 

142. ibid. 

143. Luc Sante, 17 and 373; Herbert Asbury, The Gangs of 
New York, 161-162, 217-219, and 230-232. 

144. During one investigation he was asked how he could 
afford a country estate on a policeman's salary. He 
answered that he had made some successful real estate 
investments in Japan, where no one was likely to go 
to verify his claim. 

145. "At Republican Headquarters," The Evening World, 
November 8, 1887, 1. 

146. The telegraph had been around for more than four 
decades by then. 

147. "Runyon's Diamond," Daily MomingCall, February 26, 
1891, 6. A search of the California Digital Newspaper 
Collection, California Historical Newspapers, and the 
America's Historical Newspapers websites, as well as 
ProQuests' San Francisco Chronicle database in the San 
Francisco Public Library, showed that this is the earli- 
est use of the term tenderloin to be used by a San 
Francisco newspaper to describe San Francisco's vice 
districts. The term was used frequently after this. 

148. The California Digital Newspaper Collection et al; 

149. Ibid; "Gives Bad Checks to Saloon Men," San 
Francisco Call, January 30, 1907, 16. 

150. Before the 1906 earthquake and fire, it wasn't always 
clear which neighborhoods the newspapers were refer- 
ring to when they wrote about the tenderloins. The 
term tenderloin, when used in the lower case, could 
mean any of several disreputable areas where prostitu- 
tion, gambling, and crime were known to flourish. Or, 
the terms tenderloin or Tenderloin could refer to all 
these neighborhoods together. While the origin of the 
term Uptown Tenderloin is obscure, one wonders if 
some enterprising early 20th-century madam, gam- 
bling czar, or cafe owner came up with the name as a 
way to set this particular tenderloin apart from the 

151. All of which started showing up in the district during 
the last half of the 1880s. See San Francisco City 

152. San Francisco City Directories, (see note 13). 


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